Wed 4 Jul 2007
Vote for Nader – like confetti, your vote will be in a landfill soon.
Ten years ago, if someone played word association with the name “Ralph Nader“, you would have heard either “Corvair” or “consumer advocate” if anyone had even heard of the name in the first place. Now when you hear the same name, it’s usually a painful grimace and shaking of the head.
This documentary seeks to examine Mr. Nader and his impact. Not only does the film fall short, but it leaves a worse taste in your mouth than before you started watching it.
So, the order of events for this documentary is basically: his beginning, his ascendancy, his frustration, his first run, the aftermath of the first run, his second run, his legacy.
Is it good? No.
Should you watch it? No.
If you want to learn about Nader, his Wikipedia entry is a better use of time than this movie. Am I advocating reading on a movie blog? Oops.
Why didn’t I like it? Because this film has a disproportionate concentration on the aftermath of his first run for presidency in 2000. And it’s not just that, but it ended up feeling like the whole point of the movie was to make a case for why he ran (and stayed in the running) for presidency in 2000.
This is also only part of it. The film focuses on Nader’s justification for running being dissatisfaction with the 2-party-system basically becoming a vote for the lesser of two evils. So even though he never thought he had a chance of winning, he was trying to make a point and get another party into the mix.
This leads straight into my biggest problem with the film? Never once in this film were the words Ross Perot mentioned. Why? Because even the slightest mention of Perot’s 1992 candidacy as a third party (which yielded over 5x more popular votes than Nader’s 2000 run) would have undercut much of the self-imposed rational for Nader’s presence in the 2000 election.
This glaring omission made Nader and these filmmakers seem like they were trying to pull the wool over the viewer’s eyes concerning the very recent election past while also trying to justify why Nader effectively took critical votes from the Democrats in 2000.
It feels very egotistical in that they are saying “look at us trying to make a point – and we’re not going to tell you that the point had been made 8 years beforehand by someone not named Nader.”
The point I would have like to have been represented is that Nader may have had the complete correct justification for running, he just chose the wrong election and didn’t get out if it when he should have. Why? Because even if a system of “the lesser of two evils” is not right in a true democracy, if one of your evils is as Nader put it “the worst president ever” – then you get out and do what you can to make sure that possible evil isn’t elected at any cost.
So in the end, I just thought this was a film whose sole existence was to try and clear the conscience for those involved in the Nader campaign, and those who voted for Nader (you know who you are).
What isn’t strong enough in this film is a more hammered home sense of what a great man Nader really is. This is a man who is very responsible for many, many wonderful things meant to protect the population and the consumer.
That part of who Ralph Nader is should be celebrated by everyone, regardless of political affiliation. The sheer number of lives he’s saved as a result of his campaigns for auto safety should qualify him for a Nobel Prize. And that’s only a small part of the wonderful impact he’s had on society.
So in the end, I’m only giving this a 2 of 5 because of the short sidedness of the film. While there is a portrayal of both sides of most arguments, the huge omissions and dwelling on certain points just takes this from a bio-film on a great man to a poor attempt at justification for handing the White House to Bush in 2000.