Nader Doc Plays As Dem 2008 Pre-Game

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…

naderstand.jpgAt 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.


nadercapital.jpgNader’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


Edit Your Comment

  1. nweaver says:

    The problem is, nader DID cause Gore to lose, and was quite happy about it, viewing Gore and Bush as two sides of the same coin.

    As subsequent events have proved, this has hardly been the case.

  2. Nader is a just a wee bit taken with himself. He likes to overstate things, but he also likes to brush off concerns about his own wealth and property dealings and the less savory parts of his biography — nothing new there, he’s very much a Washington player.

    He also has a bad record abandoning efforts that he has started. The Greens who are perhaps a worthwhile idea — were silly to put their faith into the Nader machine — because it’s a lot of self promotion and not a lot of substance. His legacy is that he may have set their organizing efforts back by about 15 years.

    Now they have to convince people that they are just spoil sports that really want change and go about it the slow local level that always works in this country instead of the showy national campaign route. So it’s back to school board and city council races — which is exactly how the social conservatives built up their machine over the last 30 years. It’s not fun, it doesn’t get media attention, but it has a proven record.

  3. Ben Popken says:

    Nweaver: Gore lost by 537 votes. Each of the alternate write-in candidates received more than 537. The movie at least taught me that.

  4. rocky_road says:

    I don’t understand how people can say Nader cost Gore the 2000 election. Gore won the election and it was stolen from him. I voted for Nader. If Nader hadn’t run, I would not have voted for Gore, since I don’t like politicians who waffle on the death penalty and push crap like NAFTA, the bombing of pharmaceutical plants in the Sudan, gutting public support for poor parents and their children, and the defense of marriage act.

  5. Ted says:

    Despite its subject, I think this is the latest in a line of phe-fucking-nomenal docs that have been blowing away traditional narrative features for the last year, at least (I’d go further and say the last 3 years). So I’m going.

  6. Were any of the examples of Nader’s consumer protection pushes relevant in the 80’s+? I was under the impression that most of the reforms that he had pushed quite a few things in the sixties/seventies but hasn’t really gone to bat in the last twenty or so years.

    So we should thank him for pointing out the automobile industry was cutting corners on cars in the sixties?

  7. sluggo says:

    You, Danny Thomas and Barry Obama, all the same. Use your first real name, you friggin’ a-rab. What is it? Rashid? Your green card has been seized, troublemaker.

  8. southerndem says:

    The greatest irony in all of this is that George W.’s second greatest legacy (behind you know what you know where) will be his dismantling of consumer protections in this country. Yes, it’s happened through temporary appointments to the heads of various regulatory agencies, but more importantly through permanent judicial appointments (not to mention Karl Rove’s ongoing project to take over state appellate courts for business interests). The end result is a simultaneous end to consumer protection torts and at least temporary halt to any form of regulation. And that’s before you throw in tort reform legislation.

    So maybe Nader didn’t cost Gore the election on election day. But his campaign mantra that there was no difference between the two major candidates cost the nation plenty, and Bush proved Nader wrong by directly attacking the areas in which Nader had the most success in his prior career.

  9. Falconfire says:

    The joke of Nader is he isnt as consumer minded as he makes himself out to be. Its pretty well known that the only reason he went after the Covair was because legally he couldnt go after the VW beetle (his real target) so he went after the Covair knowing full well much of the faults that he was “exposing” had been corrected early on in the production, so early he had to hunt down the cars they used to test because no one had those models anymore.

    Granted GM had their own reasons to cancel the car (it was a expensive as hell car to produce and thus didnt command the premium the Mustang and others did for other companies), but Nader trumped up a lot of bogus and missleading info for his book that lead to its demise

    Much of what he has done has been because he wanted to get his name out there, but couldnt go after targets that really WHERE dangerous for various reasons.

  10. cindygasoline says:

    ben, when you say “we popped it in ” and “we” thought this and that”, who do you mean? I can’t imagine anyone dumb enough to agree with you on the review of this film. What do you have a lot of asskissers who agree with whatever you say because finally found meaning in doing your own blog? I saw it at Sundance last year and I have to say it ROCKED! And by the way, if the filmmakers would have asked YOU to go on camera, you would have never had the balls. At least Eric Alterman had the guts to say what most of you whiney democrats just say to each other at your cocktail parties in Hollywood, safely protected from the real world. do you even know what minimum wage IS?

  11. malatron says:

    “Millions of people voting with their dollar, there’s your grassroots movement.”


  12. empty01 says:

    What entertained me was Nader spoke of making attempts to remedy local issues like South Central, Richmond, Harlem. As well as national issues. He wanted to make a mandatory minimum wage for illegal immigrants because it would deter companies from hiring them… I do not agree with everything Ralph Nader did in his life but Nader was someone who consistenly flipped off corporations and tried to protect the consumer, the lower and middle tiers of the socioeconomic strata, Bush was a spoiled twit with ties to the oil industry and Gore was… the inventor of the internet.

    Ralph Nader received no air time because the corporations he threatened control all the air time in a very literal sense. He was shown more on television before he announced he was running than after. Something to think about if Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Republican A, and Republican B are all being shown on the news.

    On a side note of local issues, Bush and Gore never addressed the fact that over 300 people are murdered each year in the SF Bay Area, yet Oakland (one of the murder capitals) does not have the funding right now for enough people trained to analyze fingerprints resulting in fingerprints not even being taken after any crime other than a murder. Police often do not have enough people to respond to 911 calls. Officers will avoid the alleys where drug deals are plainly visible from the street to avoid being murdered. The most violent areas are poorly funded and ignored. Ralph Nader mentioned it in his speech, any politician that ever mentions that will receive my vote.

  13. silverlining says:

    Sluggo writes:
    “You, Danny Thomas and Barry Obama, all the same. Use your first real name, you friggin’ a-rab. What is it? Rashid? Your green card has been seized, troublemaker.”

    WTF? Ummm, unless Sluggo has a VERY dry sense of humor, seems like the above racist anti-Arab, anti-immigrant tirades belong on some KKK site, not in “Consumerist” comments. Moderators?