PORTLAND, Maine - Ralph Nader brought a Portland audience to its feet Monday night with his signature call to fight Wall Street greed, corporate crime and the military industrial complex.
"If you're not indignant, you're not a citizen," Nader said to about 250 people gathered at First Parish Church in Portland.
Nader, who's on the Nov. 4 ballot as an independent presidential candidate, skewered last week's $700 billion Wall Street bailout.
He said Congress approved the unprecedented taxpayer-backed rescue even though many Americans believe it will benefit executives who caused the mortgage-related financial crisis without holding them accountable.
"That means your representatives in Congress shut you down," Nader said. "Wall Street stuffed Washington into a barrel and rolled it."
Nader said he's running for president again because the United States is drowning in debt and Americans have surrendered control of their lives to corporations that are running the country.
Regarding corporate influence in government, Nader said the biggest difference between Republicans and Democrats is "the speed at which their knees hit the floor" when corporations knock on the door.
He said he wants to reform the tax system, in part because the government has reverted to the days of taxation without representation that led to the Revolution. "We're back to 1775," he said.
Nader noted that about half of the nation's annual operating budget is spent on defense and corporations that make up the so-called military industrial complex.
He said the true sign of courage in leadership is having the ability to wage peace and diplomacy.
Nader said he wants to improve workplace health and safety, continue fighting for consumer rights and provide universal health care for Americans.
Nader criticized the energy policies of the presidential candidates representing the major political parties, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain and Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.
He said both support a banquet of fuel options, including oil, coal and nuclear power, that aren't good for consumers or the environment.
Nader supports clean energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and wants to put a stop to oil, nuclear, electric and coal subsidies.
"Some forms of energy are better than others," said Nader.
Nader, who's on the ballot in 45 states and the District of Columbia, also complained that third-party candidates are excluded from the presidential debates.
"I looked at that stage the other night," Nader said. "It really had a lot of space, didn't it?"
The audience at the Congress Street church included people of all ages and political persuasion.
Nader is "a Connecticut Yankee with a very high order of intellect," said Tom Little, an independent voter from Connecticut who is working as an apple picker at a local orchard. "I don't agree with him on everything, but he represents a legal, law-enforcement response to a criminal government."
"I've voted for Ralph every time he's been on the ballot," said Claudine Grange, a Democrat who is a nurse practitioner and lives in Portland.
Grange disputed the notion that she's throwing away her vote in what is basically a two-way race.
"I vote my conscience," she said. "Whether he wins or not isn't important. He's educating the public and he's telling the truth and that's what matters."