Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Film Review by Alison Ross

Ralph Nader: A Reasonable Man in Unreasonable Times
by Alison Ross

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." (George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman: "Maxims for Revolutionists")

Ralph Nader is the Gandhi of American consumer rights. That's the good news. The bad news is, he is not revered like Gandhi, and runs the risk of never being so loftily respected. But that's through no fault of his own. Oh no - Nader tenaciously forges on despite the nearly insurmountable odds, and in spite of virulent criticism from all sides.

No, the glaring lack of due reverence for Ralph Nader can be blamed on his malicious detractors, who have villified Nader, misguidedly scapegoated him for what are, patently, flaws within the system.

The film, "An Unreasonable Man," attempts to correct the pernicious misperceptions surrounding Nader. The film is tilted toward affection for the consumer rights crusader, and yet it's not blatantly biased. Rather, the movie balances the affectionate tone with sometimes searing critiques of the man, via interviews with journalists, policy makers, and even former Nader staffers. However, it's clear that the moviemakers are not endorsing the critiques so much as putting them out there for the audience to see and dissect for themselves.

What the movie lays out brilliantly is just what a staggering impact Nader has made in both the material marketplace as well as the marketplace of ideas. Indeed, Nader has labored tirelessly so that we could have access to many things that we now take for granted, such as seat belts, airbags, product labels, free airline tickets in the case of getting bumped on overbooked flight, lowered levels of lead in the environment, safer drinking water, and so on. Nader and his multiple organizations have also been crucial players in the establishment of the Freedom of Information Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nader's many books include Corporate Power in America, Who's Poisoning America, and Collision Course: The Truth About Airline Safety.

And yet, despite his exuberance of compassionate consumer rights and humane policy victories, Nader is most well-known for his 2000 presidential campaign. This is because Nader managed to steal some thunder from the Democrat's snooze-fest of a campaign by actually modeling the progressive paradigm the Demublicans only pretended to champion.

Of course, one of the common misperceptions is that Nader burgaled votes from the Democrats in 2000. But he did not. As Nader himself says, the Democrats were not entitlted to any votes; they had to earn them, and in 2000, they failed to set the world on fire. They ran a lackluster campaign that did not inspire truly compassionate people to vote for them. Nader, on the other hand, ran a scintillating campaign that vigorously championed the causes of the people. It was an anti-corporate campaign which embraced sound, sane solutions to fixing the fiasco known as American government.

Nader, in other words, inspired tens of thousands to vote for him despite his third party status and dearth of corporate funding. The most interesting part of all is that Nader supporters came from all walks of life: conservative backgrounds, progressive backgrounds, and all shades of grey between these two simplistically polarized camps.

But because the Democrats sleep-walked through their campaign, and because the electoral system is outrageously unfair and third parties are shamefully neglected, and because the neo-con creeps underhandedly worked to steal the election, Bush was ushered in as president in 2000. And yet Nader got ALL the flak, and he continues to receive the brunt of the blame by frustrated Democrats who are too timid to focus on THEMSELVES and the SYSTEM as the REAL problems.

One of the most disconcerting parts of "An Unreasonable Man" is when journalist Eric Alterman excoriates Nader for all the crimes the Bush freaks have committed during their Reign of Error.

Um, yeah, right, Eric, Ralph Nader, humane crusader for consumer rights and progressive policies, is to blame for everything bad in America today.

How about laying the blame at the doorstep of the Democrats, the TRUE villains in this Tragedy of Terror? After all, it is the Democrats who refuse to be an effective opposing force to the neo-cons. Democrats claim to counter regressive Republican philosophy, when their record reveals that they bolster it.

Ralph Nader is the American Gandhi: A Saint in Sinister Times.

Click here for more information about the Nader DVD

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