Democratic Underground

Ralph Nader: The Anti-hero's Anti-hero
March 6, 2001
by Bradford Shaw

Ralph Nader has been a respected consumer advocate for many decades. His seemingly tireless work for safety has undoubtedly saved many lives. His honest demeanor and lack of corporate fear are breathtaking and awe-inspiring. So why do I think that Ralph Nader has ruined our country for the next four years just for his own ego? The answer to that question was in his own attitude and behavior during campaign 2000.

It was unfortunately clear after watching Mr. Nader appear at venue after venue, reciting the same dialogue again and again, that the valiant effort that he was making in his run for the presidency was nothing more than a gigantic ego trip. I can recall specific instances when I personally observed Mr. Nader in several interview formats with different hosts, dodging questions in favor of lengthy attacks on the opposing candidates. He simply would take a question and integrate evasive posturing.

For example, I remember a talk show host asking him how he expected to govern in Washington with no political support such as what is built in for the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives. His answer was an attack on the status quo, putting down both parties as corrupt and out-dated. The host pressed Mr. Nader for an in-depth answer, and received a more lengthy filibuster on bad, bad Al Gore and mean, stupid GW and how both parties had ruined the environment and the economy.

That was when I began to wonder which planet he thought he was from. Al Gore and George Bush the same where the environment was concerned? Didn't he read "Earth in the Balance"? The Democrats had ruined the economy? Does the man have access to a newspaper or the Internet, or perhaps public record? Didn't he make a slew of money during the Clinton years just the same as the ungrateful Republicans?

On the Hardball College Tour, Nader responded to Chris Matthews' questions in pre-formed diatribe fashion directly to the audience. His responses to what seemed like logical questions turned into joint and several tirades against anything remotely connected to business or industry. That was when I began to question his grip on his immediate reality. I wondered if he had slipped into an idiot-savant programming mode, with pre-formed sound bites ready for all occasions. Chris Matthews, in his off-putting forceful high-pitched way, finally got Mr. Nader to admit that there was really no hope for his campaign, and that his mighty effort in the 2000 election was to try to establish the Green party as a legitimate national political force to be dealt with. Not to mention the possibility of matching funds for his political machine.

Again during an appearance on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher during the campaign, the Green party candidate was found to be consistently responding with attacks, not practical solutions. He gave the impression that he wouldn't really know what to do with the Presidency if it fell in his lap, but he would know what to tell Al Gore and GW if they won the election.

So again it seems to point the finger at ego. Ralph thought that by his powerful personal drive and ambition, that he could single-handedly put the Green party on the map. He appeared to expect all good Americans to listen and believe all that he said as Gospel, even if it flew in the face of logic and reason, as we knew it. He knew that he could convince us that the people that we backed with our money and votes were corrupt and worthless. He would find and expose every immoral and illegal weakness that he could in both opposing parties. His righteousness and selflessness would reveal the truth even if the results were ugly and brutal.

Well the trouble with that was that the majority of people thought he was full of bull, and proceeded to dismiss him as a leftist wacko. His redirection of focus away from any plan that he may have formed had the effect of giving the impression that the man was simply a complainer without any proposal for a remedy.

Here's my impression of his plan, as it were, so to speak. First, get about ten to fifteen percent of the national vote in order to qualify for matching funds. Second, establish Green party candidates in State and local elections with some of the money. Third, stay on the forefront of the news throughout the next four years, complaining about everything under the sun related to political issues and personalities. Fourth, secure his place as party leader and founding father on the national scene, placing his people in high ranking and influential positions within the Green party hierarchy. Fifth, using his influence, secure another gigantic ego stroke in the year 2004, as the number one left wing candidate representing the growing force that is the mighty Green party in the presidential race.That way he would be absolutely guaranteed to have a captive audience to follow his every word. His massive throngs of enthusiastic followers would help the world to finally realize that he indeed is really right about everything. He is the all-knowing, all seeing, truth teller of the new age.

Well thank God that a funny thing happened on the way to the food co-op, he didn't make the minimum number of votes for the big bucks! With his campaign in shambles, his bid for federal funds quashed, and his ego slightly bruised, it behooves us to reexamine his current and future legacy.

Initially it is important to note that whatever Al Gore may or may not have done in the 2000 race for the Whitehouse, if Ralph Nader had checked his ego at the political door, we would still be calling GW Governor, and Al Gore wouldn't have needed a moving truck as well as a four year supply of Maalox and Motrin for those special "Bush" moments we all have to live through now.Nader says that Gore lost the election on his own, but if Ralph stayed home, could he still say that today? The answer is obvious.

Thank you Ralph for the gift of George Bush the second as our President-select. Now as to the future legacy left to us in addition to a shrub in the Whitehouse instead of outside where it belongs, we have Mr. Nader to look forward to for the next four years. Four years of him telling us about how evil the Washington crowd are, and how corrupt this administration is.

He will undoubtedly go on and on about the ruination of our environment and working class.

He will preach to us of our ineptitude in our political choices and values.

He will protest and shout about the anti-environmental positions of the Republican administration.

He will testify and write and oppose the Bush administration.

An administration that he himself helped give birth to.

Thanks Ralph, you are an anti-hero's anti-hero!


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