He's at it again. Ralph Nader, with whom I share the same age and ethnic origin; but that is not why I am singling him out for special praise — well, maybe a little. Author, lecturer, attorney, humanitarian, and environmentalist, Ralph has penned another book called "I Told You So" and indeed he has told us so over the years and he's almost always been right about all the issues. Time magazine voted him one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century.
Because of Ralph Nader, we drive safer cars, eat healthier food, breathe better air, drink cleaner water and work in a safer environment. He is a saint, pure and simple — not the kind you have to pray to for some psychosomatic cure because he's already saved untold millions and his legacy is there for all to see — unless they take the seat belts away from us.
Let's address one issue right up front. No, he didn't cause Al Gore to lose the election. More registered Democrats voted for Bush than voted for Nader and almost half of the Democratic party voters stayed home. Amazing how liberals can turn on such a man. Gore ran a weak campaign with no clear message. He failed to defeat Bush in the debates and even lost his home State of Tennessee. Millions of Democrats voted for Bush compared to the few hundred thousand that voted for Nader. We would all be wise to heed Nader's words: "Once you don't vote your ideals... that has serious undermining effects... it erodes the moral basis of our democracy". We continue to vote the "least of the worst" and are continually surprised a year later to see that the least has become worse.
At this point I need to make a public apology to a dear Unitarian friend who voted for the Green Party in the last election. Unitarians are like that you know. Most have a mind of their own and are not easily swayed by anyone or anything. I chided him for "wasting his vote" and I can only quote Ralph again: "The best education is your last mistake"!
Ralph's latest crusade is the minimum wage. The fast food industry made two hundred billion in profits last year and the lowest paid workers in our economy are making $7.25 an hour. If we raise the minimum wage for 30 million people to $10.50 it barely catches up with 1968 wages adjusted for inflation even though worker productivity has doubled.
Corporations and political opponents have tried for years to hang something on this man and the worst they could come up with is that he eats oatmeal for breakfast. While many of us are figuring out a way to "mature gracefully" and have a lot of fun, Ralph is still in the trenches doing what he has been doing most of his life — teaching us that "we the people" have the power and not those that we send to Congress. No, there will be no bingo or little umbrella drinks for this man. A final quote will summarize his life: "It is fascinating to watch legislators turn away from their usual corporate grips when they hear the growing thunder of the people".