I love Ralph Nader and have seen him speak in this town on at least four or five occasions. And almost every time I do, I come away with a wonderfully folksy expression or two I'd never heard before. Last week I attended a fundraiser for Howie Hawkins, who's running for governor of New York State on the Green Party ticket. Ralph Nader was there and, while technically not the main event, he clearly had the crowd riveted. At one point he was saying how some people don't like to get involved in politics: they're shy or embarrassed, they don't want to get "shut down at town meetings," they don't care to defend their positions, etc. They're blistered by moonbeams, he added. Smiling, I jotted it down, but was confused as to its meaning. A friend later suggested that, while it sounded like a reference to California's Jerry Brown ("Governor Moonbeam"), it must in fact mean "very thin-skinned." So much so you risk getting burned by the moon, not just the sun. (You might wear your sunglasses at night and think you're cool, but if you don't "turn on to politics," as Ralph says, "politics will turn on you.") Ralph Nader is hardly "blistered by moonbeams." He's taken criticism from all sides, and even weathered his own base accusing him of single-handedly handing the 2000 election to George W. Bush. He's an idealistic but laid-back Pisces, who just turned eighty, but still acts like he's twenty. Which may be easier for him than it would be for most of us: he's been doing pretty much the same thing his entire life, with none of the usual detours for messy personal relationships, hard-to-handle offspring, or misbegotten jobs. He simply crusades for peace and justice with astonishing focus and determination. That's his vocation. "Mr. Nader, you're a secular saint," said my friend, as we waited on line to get our books signed. Oh, and he writes a lot of books too—over thirty and counting. His latest one is called Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. I was surprised to also learn that he typed (on a typewriter) and then published a 773-page "novel" in 2009, entitled Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! It's been compared to both Looking Backward: 2008-1887, by Edward Bellamy, and Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Way to go, Ralph! There were ten cases of today's typo found in OhioLINK, and 181 in WorldCat.
(Picture I took of Ralph Nader at another Hawkins fundraiser four years ago.)