My Life as Ralph Nader's Flunkie
April 27, 2004 8:34 AM   Subscribe

My Life as Ralph Nader's Flunkie Ralph Nader believes an independent candidacy should "generate more understandings and support for major new directions for our country." His website says these new directions include "repeal of laws that obstruct trade union organization by millions of workers mired in poverty by wages that cannot meet their minimum family livelihoods." The site prescribes "a living wage for tens of millions of workers making under $10 an hour." But the perennial leftist candidate, whose name will appear on the presidential ballot for the third consecutive time this November, has not played by the same rules he strives to make binding for corporations and private businesses.
posted by Postroad (19 comments total)
I only have one Nader story. Ralph visited Guelph, Ontario, about ten years ago to make a speech for the PIRG there, and a friend of mine was his server at funky downtown restaurant. Well, something got spilled, and Nader lit into her, saying that he would sue the restaurant and her for the damage to his suit. She ended up in tears.
posted by tranquileye at 8:45 AM on April 27, 2004

Oh, and Pekow obviously has an axe to grind.
posted by tranquileye at 8:46 AM on April 27, 2004

He can be a wonderful speaker, and he has a long and distinguished career of consumer advocacy behind him.

That said, I think Ralph's power tripping - I think he got addicted to attention, during the 2000 campaign, in a way that was new to him. Attention and power aren't merely drug - like - they are drugs to us.

I saw Nader speak at a conference last year, and what struck me most was this ; after his speech, during the question period, a woman in her 70's (who had quite a forceful personality) asked him about what he knew about the issue electronic voting machines, of their alleged use for voting fraud.

He suddenly became vague and mealy mouthed - and said he really didn't know much about the story.

This struck me as rather odd.
posted by troutfishing at 8:59 AM on April 27, 2004

I think anybody reading Mefi in the last five years is aware of some of less flattering aspects of Ralph Nader. I have met the man on a few occasions and it always amazes me how much people that have never dealt with the man, nor are familiar with his darker side, admire him and defend him.

Troutfishing, on preview: Nader has a reputation of having a long distinguished career and many say that he is now faltering, but the reality and the reputation are two different things. It almost seems as though he accidentally fell into having a great reputation and that has given him more political longevity than any of his actions.
posted by crazy finger at 9:03 AM on April 27, 2004

I've seen on a number of occasions that the people who are good at campaigning on issues, or people who are good at setting up campaigns, are not necessarily the best managers once a campaign becomes an organisation; they tend not to have managerial skills, and also to be paranoid and/or control freaks to some degree. Managers get a lot of crap but good management is definitely a very important and specialised skill.
posted by carter at 9:06 AM on April 27, 2004

Wow. The Opposition Research hatchet jobs are starting earlier than usual this year.
posted by RavinDave at 9:12 AM on April 27, 2004

Run Ralph Run!
posted by clavdivs at 9:23 AM on April 27, 2004

you know, I love the way the FrontPage Magazine (ahem) story ends:

But count on the media to continue lionizing Nader and his leftist agenda.

yeah. damn liberal media.
so, sometimes it's the liberal media attacking Nader to help Kerry out.
sometimes instead it's the liberal media "lionizing" Nader (and here I thought that helping Nader helps Bush)

the FrontPageMag likudniks, together with other jingos, Arab-haters and generally fascists should just form a nice right-wing chorus and stick to cheering for Ralph

on preview:
clavdivs, again, proves my point much more succintly
posted by matteo at 9:32 AM on April 27, 2004

Ralph and his mega-ego gave us four years of GW. Now he seeks to give us four more. The only person for whom he advocates is himself.
posted by caddis at 9:33 AM on April 27, 2004

The media is lionizing Nader? That quote threw me off so much I looked up lionizing in the dictionary because I thought there might be some definition of lionizing I was unaware of.

Like if the article was arguing that the media was focused on Nader as a spoiler and ignored any deeper analysis, the guy would have a point, but to suggest the media is lionizing Nader is so absurd I wonder how that line made it pass any editors.
posted by bobo123 at 9:40 AM on April 27, 2004

how so
posted by clavdivs at 9:58 AM on April 27, 2004

Interesting....I had forgotten that Nader started the PIRGs. I worked for MassPIRG the summer after just graduating from high school and thought I'd have a WONDERFUL experience. But all I ended up doing is canvassing for money. I could sell people on the environmental initiatives but I couldn't get them to pay money for it. And every night I had to bring in $75 or I'd be put on probation and then let go.

I can't remember what I was making at the time but I remember it was less than I made picking & packing in a school supply mail order company warehouse. I just remember my mother being pissed when I quit to go work for MassPIRG.

In retrospect, all I learned from that experience was to feel sorry when MassPIRGers come to my door canvassing. Maybe it's time to find another cause and hand the MassPIRG person that article when they stop by.
posted by bkdelong at 10:01 AM on April 27, 2004

I later discovered Nader routinely hired people on one premise, then gave them something entirely different to do.

Come on! Welcome to the real world, already. Who has started work at a company doing one thing, and then getting switched to something completely different because of one reason or another?
posted by plemeljr at 10:08 AM on April 27, 2004

The media is lionizing Nader? That quote threw me off so much I looked up lionizing in the dictionary because I thought there might be some definition of lionizing I was unaware of.

It's meant in the same sense that Romans lionized early Christians I suspect.
posted by boaz at 10:20 AM on April 27, 2004

plemeljr - of course it happens in the real world. But the point is that Nader does things quite differently then what he "fights for".
posted by bkdelong at 10:20 AM on April 27, 2004

In all fairness re: my last comment I should link to this Letter to the Editor from MassPIRG's Executive Dir. It still was a crappy experience and what I heard & experienced while working there seems to fall in line with the article.
Amherst In his column "Ignore Ralph Nader, Alan Bisbort writes, "The reason I will not support PIRG ... is that PIRG was started by Ralph Nader." Mr. Bisbort, like all Americans, is free to vote for or against Ralph Nader, just like he is free to contribute, or not contribute, to MASSPIRG. But just for the record, if you have a bone to pick with Mr. Nader, not donating to MASSPIRG won't help. Nader did help get the PIRG idea off the ground 32 years ago, but since then hasn't been affiliated with the organization. (Here in Massachusetts, it was UMass Amherst students who started MASSPIRG, and 30 plus years later UMass stands as the flagship PIRG college chapter.

MASSPIRG takes no position on Mr. Nader's candidacy. We are a non-partisan public interest organization and we welcome your support if you agree with our agenda and we respect your decision if you don't. As a parent, I hate to use the expression, but not giving to MASSPIRG because you're mad at Ralph Nader is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Janet S. Domenitz

Executive Director, MASSPIRG
posted by bkdelong at 10:23 AM on April 27, 2004

Who is this Charles Pekow, and why would someone who speaks so contemptuously of "leftist agendas" want to work for Nader? Or was he a leftist until that experience, which converted him to a rightie? Something about the whole story doesn't quite hang together.
posted by adamrice at 10:28 AM on April 27, 2004

The ax that's being ground here (so to speak): Front Page Mag's editor-in-chief is David Horowitz.
posted by blucevalo at 12:54 PM on April 27, 2004

Before recently, the only think I knew about Ralph Nader was that he featured in the background of a Tom Robbins novel. I really liked the novel.
posted by jb at 6:19 PM on April 27, 2004

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