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

More articles by:
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail