What You Missed in the Nader Q&A

Following are some snippets from the Q&A after the 9:55pm screening of An Unreasonable Man on January 31st, 2007. The Nader camp consisted of Jason Kafoury, Henriette Mantel, Theresa Amato, Jim Musselman and Steve Skrovan.

Audience: Will Nader be running in the 2008 election?
Nader Camp: “His answer is, too soon to tell.”

Audience: What does Ralph see as any positive legacy of running in 2000 and 2004?
Nader Camp: “Hundreds of thousands of people came into the political arena because of that campaign, because it was the first time since Ross Perot or John Anderson that there was a very viable third party.”

Audience: How long did it take to make the movie?
Nader Camp: “About two years… over three years to get to this point [the screening].”

On the movie’s “villains”:
Nader Camp: “We had a list a mile long of people that hated Ralph and that spoke out against Ralph but that would not go on camera, and so my hat is off to our two “villains” in the movie because at least they had the guts — it’s a late night show — I’ll say, at least they had the balls to go on camera and talk about how they felt.”

Audience: Does he believe the consumer movement has failed?
Nader Camp: “The consumer movement is on the defensive and they’re sticking their fingers in the dikes. They’re just trying to hold back the tide and there’s no forward motion. So his change of strategy, and as you see in the movie he didn’t like, jump into electoral politics, he kind of got pulled in, and you’ve gotta reform the system before you can make anything work. So all of these organizations are still working, he still supports, and they’re doing their work and he meant them to be separated from him. He has kind of changed his strategy to engage the electoral process because he thinks that democracy needs fixing, and I heard Al Gore say that very same thing three weeks ago, that our democracy is broken, and he is trying to do that-“
Nader Camp: “He’s trying to get a career as a weatherman”
Nader Camp: “-and as usual he’s ahead of the curve and it’s taking people time to catch up.”

Audience: If Nader knew then what he knows now, that Bush was gonna be in office for 8 years, would he have chosen to do things differently?
Nader Camp: “I think Ralph at a certain point, throughout the 80’s and 90’s, came to a realization that he was not gonna be able to deal with Democrats or the Republicans to get what he wanted to get done to make this world a better place, and he came to a snapping point and, you saw that evolution somewhat through the film, through ‘92 and ‘96 and then in 2000, and I think that he’s now concluded that the two parties are so run by the big money interests in our society that it’s not a fair game for average people like us to have a voice, and the only way to have a voice is to run, and I think he came to that conclusion in 2000 and I don’t think he would have changed even if he knew at that point that George Bush might have won.”
Nader Camp: “No one can know that though!”

On Nader getting Republican money in 2004:
Nader Camp: “That was the poll tested smear because they figured out the best way to smear Ralph Nader was to say that he was taking Republican money. Well, it is true that some Republicans gave money to the campaign, that was approximately 4%, the Center for Responsive Politics did a study of it, and then we asked the Center for Responsive Politics-“
Nader Camp: “-$53,000 it was-“
Nader Camp: “Yes, very minor amounts And a lot of these people had direct connections, that they had worked with Ralph-“
Nader Camp: “They went to college with him, right? A couple of them.”
Nader Camp: “-all kinds of things-“
Nader Camp: “They were like, his college buddies.”
Nader Camp: “-we asked them to take a look at how much Republican money was being used to sponsor the Democratic campaigns, and you know what they told us? They couldn’t possibly devote the resources necessary to undercover the tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars that was going into the Democratic coffers and so they couldn’t do a comparable study, but they debunked the myth that Ralph was being financed by Republican contributors. Most of those people were personal connections and it was far under any kind of money that any of the Democratic party candidates had received.”

Audience: What IS a spoiler in a presidential election?
Nader Camp: “I don’t think there is such a thing as a spoiler. I think if Jo Blow wants to run for president on the street next year, if he can get enough money together and get enough people to sign, then he should be able to run for president. We live in America, we don’t live someplace that – anybody can run for president! So there’s no such thing as a spoiler . . . It’s a competition. It’s a football game. Somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose. There’s no giving up the team for other team. It’s like everybody thinks that (whiny voice), oh Ralph should have given up so the Democrats could win. Who gives up a ball game when you’re in the middle?? It’s bologna!”

Audience: Do you find that the ease of ballot access has opened up the process?
Nader Camp: “How many people here have ever circulated a birthday card in their office or in their own household, trying to get everybody’s signature to say happy birthday or congratulations, whatever? Ok, now multiply that by about 10 million and think about the effort that’s involved nationwide. You have to get a new drivers license in every state because there was a new regulatory process in every single state you wanted to go into just to be able to have your name on the ballot. I went to law school a block away from here at NYU in the late 80’s and my real legal education came in understanding how difficult it is for anybody in the United States of America to get their name on the ballot in order to run for any office if you are not the favored candidate of one of the two parties . . . it’s a game people play all across the country and we have to ask ourselves, how far removed are we from other societies that we can criticize as undemocratic when it is so difficult to run for office in the United States of America if you are not the sanctioned candidate.”
Nader Camp: “If you have unlimited money Ross Perot style you can get on-“
Nader Camp: “You can buy your way.”
Nader Camp: “-but if you’re required to go out and get $5, $10, $20 contributions from individuals, you’re screwed.”