osiris and i went and saw ralph nader speak last night in raleigh. it’s always an honor to see him speak. i saw him once before, in 2002, in between presidential elections. the turnout left much to be desired last night, but then he’s not even going to be on the ballot in north carolina this time around.
i will say that ralph nader is probably the single smartest and most influential person i’ve ever seen speak (an illustrious list that also includes barack obama and pat buchanan). i mean, he just knows what’s up and he knows how to talk about it. and when he speaks to you, he lectures you and scolds you and makes you think about stuff you’re reluctant to think about. i particularly liked his ideas on electoral reform. i mean, we all know the electoral system is screwed up and corrput and wrong. but ralph has spent his life trying to fix it, and how can you not respect that? there’s no way, that’s how.
we’re all feeling a little worn out with general election politics this month, i think, and it’s a good opportunity to re-open your mind and test the waters. i know i am personally feeling pretty hurt and vulnerable and so it was a good opportunity to reawaken some passion for direct involvement (other than just campaign direct involvement, which is its own thing) and organization. i will say i wished that more than 40 people showed up last night.
in the meantime, behind this link you will find the brilliantly worded, well thought out response i wrote for the ecohouse newsletter after i saw ralph nader speak the first time. be warned, it’s incredible.
WE WANT NADER! WE WANT NADER! The cries shook the foundation of Phi Beta Kappa Hall on the campus of the illustrious College of William and Mary. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the raucous leftist party we were all hoping it would be, but nonetheless Ralph Nader rocked the house more than Slayer in yo’ mama’s pantry. “Alison, you should definitely throw your panties at him!” As I seriously considered Sarahbean’s suggestion, He (!!), in all His glory, came on stage. OH HOLY SHIT!!! Clapping, cheering, celebratory drumming — it was everywhere!! When the noise died down and they lowered the house lights … He spoke. “Wow, that’s some very auspicious lighting.” What??!!?!!! This dude must be fuckin’ smart if he used the word “auspicious” in his first sentence. He definitely proved himself smart. I’ve never seen somebody who knows so much damn stuff. Like, how many of you knew that hot dogs have less protein than the buns they sit on? Um, not me (though I do not eat hot dogs and everyone to whom I’ve told this fact says they will swear off them as well, as if they weren’t nasty enough before). Ralph was inspiration in its very essence. I think I might actually pay attention to Him when he says that sleeping, eating, reading, studying, hanging out with friends, and partying are all horrible wastes of time. Granted, we can not all spend our undergrad years hobnobbing with Latin American Dictators’ sons (but don’t we all wish we could be), but we can still make a difference. When this guy was at Stanford He was leading major politicians to their hotel rooms and researching crazy consumer safety things and publishing articles and being successful and everything we all want to be. At any rate, you’ve got to respect a man who can get seatbelts required in every car, ban smoking on airplanes, raise consumer awareness about pretty much everything, create the EPA, run for president, and still have time to come talk to (not to mention give Simpsons calendars to) a bunch of bummish College students who don’t even know what the word “auspicious” means.