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Ralph Nader in winter


This interview with Ralph Nader in Mother Jones made me rather sad.

Among other things, it made me think of the parallels between Nader and Donald Trump. Now these days pretty much everything makes me think of the parallels between it and Donald Trump, including this list of the still-living Brooklyn Dodgers (Carl Erskine of The Boys of Summer fame died yesterday):

Bob Aspromonte, born June 19, 1938
Tommy Brown, born December 6, 1927
Jim Gentile, born June 3, 1934
Fred Kipp, born October 1, 1931
Sandy Koufax, born December 30, 1935

Similarly for the New York Giants:

Joey Amalfitano, January 23, 1934
Jackie Brandt, April 28, 1934
Ray Crone, August 7, 1931
Joe Margoneri, January 13, 1930
Willie Mays, May 6, 1931
Ozzie Virgil Sr., May 17, 1932
Bill White, January 28, 1934
Al Worthington, February 5, 1929

And the St. Louis Browns (moved to Baltimore in 1954):

Billy Hunter, born June 4, 1928
Ed Mickelson, born September 9, 1926
Frank Saucier, born May 28, 1926

Frank Saucier is most famous for being replaced by a pinch hitter, 3’7″ Eddie Gaedel.

Philadelphia A’s (moved to KC in 1955):

Bobby Shantz, born September 26, 1925

Washington Senators I (moved to Minnesota in 1961)

Ken Aspromonte, born September 22, 1931
Jim Kaat, born November 7, 1938
Don Lee, born February 26, 1934
Bobby Malkmus, born July 4, 1931
Bob Oldis, born January 5, 1928
Camilo Pascual, born January 20, 1934
Pedro Ramos, born April 28, 1935
Bob Ross, born November 2, 1928
José Valdivielso, born May 22, 1934

There are no living Boston Braves, moved to Milwaukee in 1953.

Stats courtesy of my friend Steve the Scientist and baseball nut. Also too Whitey Herzog died yesterday.

OK back on topic.

The parallel is this: Nader and Trump both ran for president because they were more or less washed up celebrities with an intense craving to see their names in the paper/on TV. Both pitched a basically faux-populist schtick to a bored and credulous media. Both managed to elect the president of the United States.

Yes this is way too harsh, as Nader was once — a very long time ago — a constructive force in American political life, despite the intense narcissistic tendencies that would eventually prove his downfall. Here’s the end of the interview:

I want to ask about 2024. It seems that the rhetoric of the “lesser of two evils” is especially heightened—

Wait a minute. It’s the wrong question. It’s the wrong question. The first question is: Why isn’t the Democratic Party and Biden 20 points ahead of a chronic liar, thief, crook, narcissist, smearer, slanderer, ignorant, stupid Trump and his followers? That’s the question. You don’t take the dereliction of the party knuckling under their corporate political media people and start there. You start with: Why aren’t they landsliding him? Do you know about the effort with Mark Green and me in 2022?

I don’t. Tell me—

You know anything about WinningAmerica.net?

I don’t.

See, Jacob, no matter where you went, where you worked—Arkansas, everywhere—you’re part of the problem.

I’m sure I am.

Get on the computer right now—go to WinningAmerica.net. On July 23, 2022, we offered the Democrats a huge presentation—six and a half hours and only a handful showed up. We had 24 civic leaders. And the sons of bitches didn’t even pick it up. Even though it was nominally endorsed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.). But you couldn’t get the queen, [then–House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, to even return calls. I knew her when she was 45 years old coming out of San Francisco—didn’t matter. She wouldn’t endorse it.

We put out reports, we put out articles. I’m gonna burn your ear, so be patient with me. The magazines don’t even cover it. So I call the editors of the Nation, Mother Jones, In These Times, Washington Monthly, the Progressive—lucky to even get a callback. I used to write for these publications before the editors were born. But they wouldn’t even call back. You got to start digging deep, Jacob—you got to dig deep into the malaise, the surrender, the low expectation level, the narcissism, the smugness of our side. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We have the most powerful arguments in American history, against the worst tyrants and corporate indentured servants in American history.

So why am I talking this way? Because you’re like the 40th progressive reporter I’ve talked to in three years, and they all write the same goddamn stuff: the same stupid, superficial stuff.

Ralph Nader is now 90 years old. The fact that there’s a part of him that is still genuinely outraged about the corporatization of America, to the point where he’s still doing the thing he does, is admirable.

As for the rest of the story, history is a harsh judge.

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