Monday, June 18, 2007

Doc Review: "An Unreasonable Man" (2006)

While it may be overstating a bit to say that without Ralph Nader, seatbelts, airbags, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and NIOSH would cease to exist, the truth is that without him, none of these campaigns (or the dozens of other consumer advocate campaigns he was actively involved in jumpstarting) would have left the starting gate. Unreasonable Man is an inside look at the man once revered for his "fighting for the little guy" but now known only as a pariah. The first half of the doc shows the viewer how Nader came to become disenfranchised with the two-party system—from campaigning vigorously for clean air and water to safety on the job, in the market and at home. The second half of the doc takes the turn onto the 2000 election Blvd. where in just days following the election Nader became the whipping boy for a campaign that really had no one to blame but itself. If only Nader had pulled out of the race before the election and told his followers to vote for Gore! There would be no Iraq War! There would be no global warming! 9-11 probably wouldn't have happened! Each a huge burden for any one man to carry on his shoulders or to follow him around for the rest of his life. (In reality, the 537 vote difference between Gore and Bush in Florida could have been made up by any one of the 3rd party candidates dropping their race and asking supporters to vote Gore). But the most notable point that the doc makes is that Nader could never drop out of the race, it would have gone against the very core of his being: he ran as an alternative to the 2 party system, he is not influenced by special interests, he is one of the few people to stand behind the convictions of his soul. What makes it an interesting documentary is that we do see an inside look at the person (much more so than with Gore in An Inconvenient Truth): we see former allies struggle with their personal relationships yet continue to distance themselves from him (or in the case of Michael Moore: completely flip flop on their convictions. That footage will stain my opinion of him indelibly.) Or in the case of The Nation reporter who practically compares Nader to Hitler for his 2000 Presidential run, come off as completely illogical. It's just odd how when you look at a list of Nader's beliefs (and thus his campaign promises) how much sense they make and when you look at his track record, you see a man who will not back down—isn't this what we all wish our politicians could truly be like?

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