Ralph Nadar, like him or not, has had a huge impact on our lives for five decades: fighting for safer cars, cleaner air, workplace safety, and advocating for a myriad of consumer interests & all within the arena of the established political power system. And what a ride it has been.
The detailed and even handed documentary An Unreasonable Man profiles Nadar and plays out in interesting ways. The narrative is made up of candid interviews with Nadar, as well as friends and foes: staffers (so-called Nadar Raiders), journalists, colleagues, and even perspectives from Pat Buchanan, another independent party candidate. Using archival footage of press conferences, congressional committee hearings and other sources, you come away from this film with a pretty good sense of his acclaimed legacy as a consumer advocate, but unsure what his legacy as a Presidential candidate might be.
Many Democrats label him as a spoiler & twice over, claiming he lost the close election for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, assuring George Bush the victory. Nadar is not repentant. Always denying the spoiler roll, Nadar sees his candidacy as an important part of a true democracy. As he says in a speech, voting for the lesser of two evils still puts evil in the White House.
It is most interesting to observe the shift of his philosophy from a man who believes that working to effect the political and corporate powers that be is better achieved by pressuring from within that system to a man so frustrated by the entrenched two party system in the U.S. that he must become a third party candidate and effect from the outside.
Tireless and unflinching, Ralph Nadar says he has little concern for his legacy, rather, he just wants to re-introduce advocacy and fairness back into what many might say is a corrupt and inbreed system.
Have we seen the last of Ralph Nadar? Tune in again in 2008.