Ralph Nader speaks at U.C. Merced

U.C. Merced, Calif.

About 300 people attended Monday night's event at U.C. Merced. Ralph Nader's message to the crowd: How grass-roots activism can make a difference in today's society.

A mixed crowd of students and non-students erupted in applause as Ralph Nader made his way into the U.C. Merced gym Monday night. Nader has run for United States President six times and considers himself an independent.

During his 45 minute speech, he encouraged people to fight cooperate greed and criticized the current state of our economy. "You know when they say, 'look let's tax the wealthy,' and 'it's class warfare.' The point is, it's the restoration of what people have already earned and what was taken from them in the first place."

While the lecture was originally designed to be a fundraiser, it later turned into a free event, paid for by Associated Students.

Nader touched on topics ranging from rising tuition costs to gas prices. He also commended the Occupy movement -- many of whom came to hear him speak.

"I'm hoping to get some glimpses on the overall picture of the Occupy movement and things that could be happening next," said Susan Bouscaren of Merced.

Others stood outside with signs, hoping they would get the attention of Nader and other attendees.

"You know he's involved with politics, he does have a voice and people love to listen to him, so if we can get him, let him know what we're thinking, what we have on our minds, maybe he'll begin to address it," said U.C. Merced student Aaron De La Cerda.

Nader did notice, and says more people need to get behind the effort and become involved with the political process. As for the upcoming presidential election, he doesn't support any specific candidate, saying, he's disappointed with the choices voters have.

"President Obama, who doesn't deserve re-election, it looks like he's going to get elected because he's going to be up against the crazed Republicans, who, I don't know where they're coming from. They don't represent the American people."

The U.C. Merced Democrats Club organized this event. One member says bringing Ralph Nader here is one of the club's biggest accomplishments.

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