Ralph Nader brought his campaign for president and against the nation's two-party political system to Philadelphia yesterday.
A passionate crowd of about 250 paid $10 each to hear Nader rail against corporate power, the nation's military budget, and the homogeneity of the major-party candidates.
Before his speech at the National Constitution Center, Nader said he believed the day would come when American voters decide they "no longer want to vote for the least worst" of the Democratic or Republican candidates.
Pennsylvania is an especially sore spot for Nader, because in 2004 he was bumped off the ballot after Commonwealth Court found that only 37 percent of his 51,273 signatures were valid.
He still owes $61,000 in legal fees from the lawsuit filed by the law firm Reed Smith L.L.P., representing a group of Democratic voters. In February, Reed Smith persuaded a judge in Washington, where Nader lives, to freeze that money in Nader's personal accounts.
"Pennsylvania's two-party tyranny is William Penn's greatest nightmare," Nader said. He said that nation's two-party "dictatorship" has made it "harder to get on a ballot than it was for candidates in the 19th century."
For Nader, whose campaign has raised $400,000, top issues include impeaching President Bush, single-payer national health insurance, and pushing solar energy.
Frank Smith, a certified public accountant from Jenkintown, was in the audience, which roared with enthusiasm as Nader stepped to the lectern.
"I wanted to vote for him in 2004, but he wasn't on the ballot," said Smith, a Republican who holds the Iraq war against that party.
"I don't like the fact that the Democrats kept him off the ballot last time," he said.
As of now, Nader is not on the ballot in any state. The candidate submitted petitions in Hawaii and New Mexico, but they have not yet been approved.
Third-party candidates have until Aug. 1 to submit petitions in Pennsylvania.
Nader was on the ballot in many states in 2000 and is blamed by many Democrats for siphoning votes away from Al Gore, causing his defeat.