With fliers in one hand, stickers in the other and a Nader/Gonzales 08 cardboard sign draped around his neck, Earl Ammerman IV campaigns. Earl Ammerman IV, a University of Nevada, Reno junior, campaigns for Ralph Nader outside the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.
Hands full, he fumbles while handing out information in the hot sun nearly every day near the sculpture garden of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. He politely asks passersby if they would like more information on Ralph Naders bid for the presidency, but few students acknowledge his efforts.
Ammerman, a 25-year-old anthropology major, has been campaigning for about a month as the Reno-Tahoe volunteer coordinator for the Nader presidential campaign.
Im doing it because I believe in third parties and I believe in Ralph Nader, Ammerman said. This is the first time Ive ever volunteered with a political campaign, although I did vote for Nader in the 2004 election.
Ammerman said he supports third parties because he feels the Democrats and Republicans are too alike on many issues. He believes real change can only come from someone with a drastically different platform, like Nader.
Both the major party candidates believe in big military budgets and their plans on health care and energy are close to the status quo, Ammerman said. They also both want to repress the democratically-elected Hamas in Palestine, despite preaching their support for democracy in the region. Ralph Nader wants to change those things.
To many students, Naders positions on these issues, and many others, are a bit radical. Most people walk by Ammerman with little more than a glance, but a few stop.
Brandon Nizzle, a senior art major, chatted with Ammerman about a few issues and walked away with a bumper sticker.
Its pretty cool, Nizzle said. It must take a lot of courage to do that every day.
Unlike the camps for Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama set up in Hilliard Plaza, Ammerman operates alone. But that doesnt mean his efforts go ignored. Each time Ammerman campaigns, more people stop and ask for information, he said.
Our numbers are growing by the day, and people like Earl have a lot to do with that, said Tony Booker, the Nader campaigns state coordinator for Nevada. Hes very dedicated, and its hard to find volunteers who are so willing to put in the amounts of time that he does. I wish I had more volunteers like him.
When Ammerman signed on to volunteer, Booker warned him that people might be rude and unreceptive to his message. He told Ammerman a story of a time when he was campaigning in Las Vegas in 2004.
A woman approached Booker, yelling that Nader had cost Al Gore the 2000 presidential election. When Booker tried to defend himself in the one-sided argument, the woman spit in his face and walked away.
Fortunately, Ammerman has not had to wipe any bodily fluids from his face. Ammerman said he has experienced the opposite at the University of Nevada, Reno. Even the people who dont agree with him are at least cordial.
Ammerman experienced this politeness while campaigning outside an Obama campaign office this summer.
While standing on the sidewalk near the office, a woman walking in who appeared to be a campaign volunteer glanced over at him, Ammerman said. She stopped halfway into the door and walked up to Ammerman, looked him in the eye and said, God bless you for standing up for what you believe in.
I respect all (campaign volunteers), he said. That kind of participation is what democracy is all about.