On the front lines for Nader


Mark Follman
July 26, 2004 3:32AM (UTC)

Late Sunday afternoon in Boston Common two volunteers work the Park Street station subway entrance, hoping to help deliver the 10,000 signatures Ralph Nader needs to get on the Massachusetts ballot. "I've got six people in about an hour," says Tom Stonehouse, a friendly college senior from Northeastern University and a registered independent. "But they were already all Nader supporters." Indeed, here in the heart of DNC country spreading the Nader gospel beyond the die-hard faithful appears to be a wee bit more difficult. "Most people are kind of standoffish," Stonehouse says sheepishly. "They seem very afraid. They don't want their name associated with him. They just kind of smirk and walk away. Some of them yell."

Stonehouse's somewhat more anxious colleague Elizabeth, a registered independent from Quincy, Mass., who preferred not to use her last name, tells War Room that "Kerry's better than Bush, and he's done some good things," and then promptly segues into a monologue about how the two-party system is bankrupt and how "all that people in this country want is a president who doesn't do anything but now that they've got King Bush they're angry and want to blame it all on Ralph."

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"I heard him speak at Harvard on Friday night," continues Stonehouse. "There were a bunch of people in the crowd who were quite hostile." Another wave of people emerges from the subway. A few yards away two police officers chat with half a dozen National Guard soldiers monitoring the area. Stonehouse explains that his reason for working on Nader's behalf is a bit of a throwback. "I saw Pearl Jam in 2000. It was because of Eddie Vedder supporting him -- that inspired me."

A few feet away Elizabeth approaches an unassuming 30-something man dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and a sun hat.

"Would you like to sign a petition to put Ralph Nader on the ballot in Massachusetts?"

The man's face instantly darkens. "Yeah, right," he sneers, and turns to stride off. "Sign me up to kick that fuckhead in the ass."


Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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