Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man

Sam Smith

A FORTHCOMING documentary on the life of Ralph Nader – An Unreasonable Man – includes many critics as well as supporters and reminds me of how despicable the Democrats’ attacks on Nader have been. It isn’t that Nader can’t drive you a bit crazy with his waverless path. I know. I wrote to urge him not to run in 2004 for a number of tactical reasons and it wasn’t well received. My basic thought was that even if you have the best message in the world, standing in the middle of Route 95 at rush hour may not be the best way to present it.

But I have also offered some the most detailed factual reasons why Nader was not to blame for the 2000 Bush victory including the lack of correlation between the polls results of Gore and Nader, the importance of normally non-voters in the Nader tally, the drag of the Clinton scandals and the defection of normally Democratic voters to Bush as revealed by exit polling. And, as the film points out, during the campaign, Nader spent all of two and a half days in Florida. If he did all that alleged damage to Gore in that short a time, the Democrats are avoiding an inconvenient truth.

Democrats can’t imagine why anyone left of center would not want to align themselves with a party that is corrupt, politically dishonest, and doesn’t come close to living up to its stated purposes. It is a presumption that is almost Bushian in its narcissistic arrogance and delusion. The film includes a number of clips of an obnoxous, whining Eric Alterman of the Nation that typify this self-serving denial. Alterman is good reminder of why I’m glad to be a Green even if people like him are rude to you.

As I tell my Democratic friends, if you want me to vote for you, you have to treat me at least as nice as a soccer mom and not blame me for all your faults. Instead, I have found myself, albeit at far less cost than Nader has paid, being sent to Coventry for not following the party line of a party I don’t even belong to.

Ironically, the Democrats not only blamed Nader for their failure in 2000 but then, as Phil Donohue notes in the film, spent the next four years proving that Nader was right about the lack of difference between Democrats and Republicans.

The film goes over this issue at length and in a particularly telling segment covers Nader’s attempt to join the audience – not the platform – of a presidential debate in Massachusetts. He had a ticket but the bipartisan thuggery of debate organizers resulted in Massachusetts state troopers keeping Nader from even watching the debate from a Fox News truck inside the event perimeter. Nader’s handling of the state trooper is Ralph at his best.

The film also looks at the many non-political reasons why people should be grateful to Nader including seat belts, air bags, and safer food as it depicts an American who has repeatedly stood up for what he believed was right, did an immense amount of good as a result, yet found himself under a vicious attack for failing to be as cynical and manipulative as those criticizing him. What they won’t admit is that his real fault in their eyes was that he blew their cover.

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3 thoughts on “Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man

  1. Well, I actually think had he not run Gore would have won Florida. I actually don't think that the most compelling evidence in defense of Nader is the stuff that Sam cites (Personal story: Not a big fan of Bob Casey. I would have been strongly tempted to vote third party had the dems not ruthlessly stripped me of my right to a third party choice. I think the same thing would have happened in florida.) but the whole voter suppression issue. If the dems fight for every vote they win in 2000 and 2004.

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