Film Review: An Unreasonable Man

An Unreasonable Man

Documentary film review
October 2007


“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

— George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)


Ralph Nader’s Legacy

by Alex

I finally bought a copy of An Unreasonable Man on DVD. I tried to see it in the theater when it came out, but the closest one showing it was 1250 miles away. Only a handful of cities around the country showed the film, and trying to find it in one of the corporate mega-rental stores is next to impossible.

This one is definitely worth seeing. Ralph Nader’s persistent activism on so many issues over the decades and his remarkable talent for motivating and organizing individuals has had an undeniable positive impact on every citizen in this country. It’s astonishing to consider how many causes in which Ralph’s leadership has had a major influence: seat belts, fuel economy, consumer product safety, OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Freedom of Information Act, and so much more.

In 40 plus years of grass roots activism, Ralph Nader has accomplished more as a private citizen to promote democracy and improve peoples lives than any elected official one could name in the same time period.

The film provides a nicely detailed history of Ralph’s role in improving auto safety and the assault General Motors launch against him in retaliation. It reminds us of the wonderful irony of how the money GM ultimately paid Nader in compensation for their dirty tricks ( a princely sum at the time) was used to fund more research and legal actions against the evil-doers of corporate America.

Nader founded many organizations and campaigns to protect citizen’s interest over the decades that followed. Years of successes through the 1960’s and 1970’s eventually came under sharp attack. By the time Reagan came along, corporate interests were taking their lobbying, litigation, and public relations to an entirely new level of battle. The stronger grip held on congress and the executive branch by the corporate ownership class made itself more and more visible. To the government agencies established to protect workers and consumers, Reagan appointed leaders directly from the industries that fought to destroy them. By this means, underfunding, legal attacks, and re-writing the laws most of the gains were rolled back.

Ralph Nader
Photo by Don LaVange

The Democratic Party regimes that came along, gave short bursts of hope, followed by the disappointment of sell-out politicians in a system that became hopelessly corrupted by the influence of corporate donors. This leads to the part of the film I most enjoyed. The discussion of the 2000 presidential election. To many liberals and Democrats, Ralph Nader was at fault for the election of King George. We’ve all heard the argument.

If for no other reason, watch this movie to hear the other side of this one. When Ralph finally accepted the Green Party’s invitation to run as their candidate, the Democrats had already practically given the office to W by failing to distinguish themselves from the other corporate-controlled political party. The fact that 10 million more Democrats voted for Bush than Nader is what they should be worried about.

The claim is often made that Nader’s votes would have gone for Gore if Ralph had just dropped out of the race. Bullshit. A great number of those voters would have voted for another 3rd party candidate, or none at all, had Ralph not run. I’m insulted by the repeated claim that I would have voted for Gore if Ralph wasn’t in the race.

I’m convinced that the overwhelming majority of those who cast votes for the Green Party in 2000 were protesting the policies of the Democrats and Republicans that have gotten us into the mess were in today. There is no denying that George W. Bush is the worst president ever. Certainly he has done a lot more harm than good, and much more damage than the Democrats would have likely done had they held power. That does not change the fact that the Democratic Party and virtually all their members in government have done a lousy job of looking out for the little guy, and a very good job of looking out for those in corporate America who paid for their offices.