Notes from the Perimeter

Friday, August 29, 2008

Interview with Ralph Nader

The Pretender

Talk about the ultimate perimeter dweller: I had the chance to sit down for ten minutes with Ralph Nader. Oh boy. I have a lot of admiration for much of what he accomplished in the past but in the interview I wanted to scream at him: WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? Get yourself a talk show! I listened to his arguments about why his candidacy is not just important, but absolutely critical, to the salvation of Democracy As The Founders Intended. Unfortunately, I was not persuaded. So, instead of getting into a futile disagreement, I decided to write him a respectful but heartfelt letter, which follows.

Dear Ralph Nader,

I’m writing to you with pain in my heart.
I used to believe that you were quite a guy.
Your principled protests set you apart from
People too willing to let justice die.

However, I fear that you’ve gone too far.
Your ego now serves an unbridled ambition.
Your ideas are strong but their impact is marred
By a hubris long nurtured and due for fruition.

You insist the two parties are basically the same:
In bed with big business, to the people a traitor.
The only way out of this mess, you would claim,
Is to sack them both and vote for Ralph Nader.

I cannot keep silent in light of such twaddle.
They differ in ways too clear for debate.
One will condemn us to perpetual battle.
One stands for change we’ll together create.

You act angry, defensive and misunderstood.
At times you seem even a bit like a bully.
It’s your way or no way, yet you never would
Explain with some nuance why opponents you sully.

I never have heard you admit a mistake
Or accept any blame for the way things turned out.
You say from Al Gore no votes you did take
But you do make that claim with a hint of a pout.

You say what you want but not how you’d do it.
You say that those other guys will let us down.
Harsh rhetoric can be persuasive, I admit,
But not when delivered with an arrogant frown.

If you are a spoiler again in this season
Enabling the election of John S. McCain.
You will lose all the honor that had been your reason
For all of the causes your advocacy gained.

So, dear Mr. Nader, your voice is essential
But not in the role you have chosen to play.
I don’t consider your path presidential
And yet I believe you can find the right way

To reclaim your status as a warrior for fairness,
To become the voice for those who have none.
There’s a place for you to increase awareness,
To finish the job you had early begun.

Keep tilting at windmills, debating convictions
But leave by the wayside your superior stance.
The road you are on is full of contradictions
But humility would your reputation enhance.

As you see I am upset, bedeviled and fuddled.
I appeal to the man that I know you can be.
My rhymes might be awkward but the message ain’t subtle:
Get out of the race and set us all free!

Peaco Todd


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