Yesterday, we popped in our advance copy of the new Ralph Nader documentary, “An Unreasonable Man,” and settled in for for two hours of propaganda…
At first it was interesting to learn more about Ralph Nader’s history as a consumer advocate, though the portrait was a bit idyllic, what with the chimes that announced the section on his boyhood history.
We felt the film glossed over what consumer protection reforms he sought and how he achieved them.
We lost interest after it got into the 2000 elections. The rest of the film played as broad populist propaganda and a rally point for the start of the Democrats’ 2008 presidential campaign.
As unpopular with the establishment as the film said he was, couldn’t they have rounded up more talking heads for counterpoint? The most extreme is some pissed off turtleneck reporter from The Nation and some former Nader’s Raiders who don’t agree with the way Nader went after he lost his balls when his Consumer Protection Agency didn’t go through.
The lowest point was the section that labored over proving Nader didn’t cost Gore the election in 2000. After each final argument on the various points, there’s a sound effect of a book closing. That’s when we started fast-forwarding.
Nader’s legacy was drawing attention to profound ills perpetuated by big corporations, like extremely unsafe cars and deadly hotdogs, and then getting protection agencies set up to oversee them. That legacy has been largely perverted by recent administrations appointing industry insiders to the chief positions of these agencies.
Nader felt the system wasn’t broke, it just needed fixing.
Now we need to realize the system is broke and no one’s going to fix it for us.
Instead, consumer need to get empowered with knowledge and tools so they can make savvy and safe purchase decisions, on a daily, tactical, basis, and seek redress if those products go awry.
Millions of people voting with their dollar, there’s your grassroots movement.
The film opens Jan 31 in limited engagements, just as the Democratic race to the primaries is in full swing. — BEN POPKEN