FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ralph Nader in Berkeley

by

On the evening of July 30, 2014, Ralph Nader spoke to a sold-out crowd at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, an event organized by listener-sponsored KPFA, 94.1 FM. I was in attendance, seated in the fourth row with a copy of my previous CounterPunch article for Mr. Nader to sign and a notebook for reporting. I thought to myself, “How could I share this event with my fellow CounterPunchers?” I quickly realized that there would be no need for creative spin; his words were enough. What follows is a sampling of his powerful, inspiring, and humorous quotes, all of which were more impactful in the moment. This rough transcript will never do Mr. Nader’s presentation justice, but it serves to document the event, spread the words of a truly great man, and express my gratitude.

On democracy, the Democratic Party, and forging left-right alliances:

“Half of democracy is showing up. If we don’t show up, nothing will happen.”

“The Democrats… They’re corporatists! They think that they own the left in this country! How dare you run against us? I never saw Republicans get mad that Chuck Baldwin ran against them!”

“The left in this country has a problem: they can’t get over the ‘ich!’ factor. Work together with a conservative, or a Republican? Ich!”

“You mean to tell me that the left and right couldn’t agree on ideas, like getting your day in court? That phrase alone: day in court. Isn’t that just one example of many that we could converge on?”

“I was talking to a representative from the south, and he told me, ‘Down here, there’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican solar panel.’”

On education, violence in the media and marketing to children:

“You already know about the SAT, that standardized, multiple-choice fraud.”

“After all the standardized testing, conformity and teaching of powerlessness throughout elementary, middle and high school… What do you expect? Raging civic advocates?”

“The biggest mistake of my career was not pushing really hard for civics classes in grammar and high school.”

“The mass marketers of all this violence… The huge bonuses for marketers that give us things like ‘the nag factor’… Imagine a culture that allows these devastating effects constantly on children’s minds and bodies! I call them electronic child molesters!”

On myths, words such as “terror” and the controversies of words in the L.A. Clippers and Washington Redskins cases:

“Words are controlling.”

“As a little boy, I came home from school one day and I was excited to tell my dad what I learned. I told him, ‘I learned that Christopher Columbus discovered America!’ He said to me calmly, ‘Sit down, son…’ Can you imagine the number of myths that parents can get rid of with just a few lines a day?”

“By far the greatest terrorists have been governments.”

“The owner of the Clippers, Donald Sterling… They want to force the sale of his team for private comments he made to his mistress about hanging out with black basketball players… What about his years of racist real estate practices?! I get calls all the time about the Washington Redskins. Finally I told one guy, ‘I don’t care! Call them the Washington Foreskins!’ What’s going on here?! We get angry and punish the word, but not the actual crimes that the word reflects!”

And finally, on popularity:

“I was looking at a magazine article about animals the other day, and they had some cats and dogs that are popular from YouTube videos and such. There was this one cat that had 1.3 million followers on Twitter. Now I’m on Twitter, and I have almost 28 thousand followers. All I could think was, ‘What do I have to do to get ahead of this cat?!’”

Mr. Nader stayed late to sign copies of his new book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. He gladly signed my article – which is now framed and hanging on my wall – and even asked why I didn’t have a copy to leave with him. I truly believe that he will take the time to read it when I send him a copy.

Support Ralph Nader. Go see him speak if you have the chance. If you have proudly voted for him in the past like I have, then adamantly defend him against all those illogical, blindly faithful, Democrat lap dogs that still attack Mr. Nader’s character and blame him for the travesty that was the 2000 presidential election. Make sure you thank him for being one of the most influential Americans of all time. And yes, follow him on Twitter…

James Madden has written five articles for CounterPunch. He can be reached at james_madden88@hotmail.com

 

James Madden has written five articles for CounterPunch. He can be reached at james_madden88@hotmail.com

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail