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Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender Hardcover – January 17, 2002
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Crashing the Party is Ralph Nader's raucous and righteously indignant account of his Green Party candidacy in the 2000 American presidential election. Nader weaves an anecdotal recounting--virtually speech-by-speech--of his exhausting, 50-state campaign with impassioned summaries of his political opinions. Primarily, Nader sees the current political structure as ominously flawed: a two-party system, he says, exists in a "drowsy equilibrium," and the parties--both in thrall to corporate interests--are concerned less with the people's needs than their own self-perpetuation. An equal-opportunity critic, he slings arrows not only at what he sees as a myopic, lazy media and Republicans (he calls former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman a "latter-day Marie Antoinette"), but organized labor, prominent Democrats, and certain fair-weather Hollywood friends as well.
Though overly strident at times, Crashing the Party is a noteworthy, thoughtful addition to the literature of muckraking. --H. O'Billovitch
From Publishers Weekly
This jaunty, provocative and entertaining on-the-road memoir/manifesto maps out Nader's political philosophy and provides the Nader take on the contemporary U.S. political scene. Whether it is what he sees as the corruption of the national media "I can't overemphasize the influence of The New York Times and Washington Post in setting the scene for the rest of the media" or the need to resuscitate the town meeting as he did repeatedly during his campaign tour, Nader presents a strong case that national politics is run more by money than issues and that there is a "democracy gap" that "discourages people from shaping the future for our country." Like a plucky protagonist in a Frank Capra film, Nader insists on speaking up for the little people and backs his arguments and decent sentiments with hard facts: an appendix of stats on affordable housing needs, "corporate welfare," personal bankruptcies, uneven distribution of wealth and the current minimum wage (which, adjusted for inflation, is lower than it was in 1979) is an impressive indictment of the state of the national economy. Holding up last November's squalid election bickering as the end result of a fatigued system "To tell you the truth, I think they [the people] never really liked either one of them," he quotes Gore's own campaign manager as saying Nader, ever optimistic, ends his book with a pragmatic 10-point "First Stage Goals for a Better America." (Jan.)Forecast: Despite the general shift of interest away from last year's election, Nader's faithful and other opponents of two-party domination will undoubtedly seek this out. It should do well in areas where he has strong support.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Some will accuse Nader of name-dropping and self-aggrandizing in this book, but that is an unfair charge. He has dedicated 40 years of his life to a quest for fairness in American life. As I went through the book and reflected on his very early efforts on everything from women's rights to product safety to the environment I could not help thinking that the breadth and substance of his accomplishments make the Democratic and Republican candidates look like Johnny-come-latelys who are also bluffing snake oil salesmen. This guy is "the real deal."
I recommend that two books be read prior to reading this one: Halstead & Lind's "The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics" and Ray & Anderson's "The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World". Two other books could add useful underpinnings to the points Nader makes that I summarize below: Lewis' "LOSERS: The Road to Everyplace but the White House" which immortalizes citizen-businessman Morry Taylor (the "Grizz"); and Williamson's "IMAGINE: What America Could be in the 21st Century."
A few points about Nader's book that I hope will dispel all the negative reviews and demonstrate that this is required reading:
1) This is the only book that addresses the totality of the challenges and threats to America in a sensible balanced way, without platitudes and upon a foundation of fact.
2) This is the only book representing the new political paradigm in which the citizen-voters take back the power by wiping out the ability of corporations to buy politicians.
3) This is the only book that thoughtfully and convincingly demonstrates that the Democrats have morphed into shadow Republicans, and both parties have completely lost their ethical and popular foundation.
4) This is the only book that bluntly confronts the fact that we get the government we deserve--democracy is hard work and demands citizen time and thought.
5) Among the useful details that should outrage and mobilize citizens, and all according to Nader:
a) the Commission on Presidential Debates is a fraud perpetrated upon the public--it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic and Republic parties created explicitly to displace the more honest League of Women Voters and to bar third party candidates from being visible to America in the crucial Presidential debates.
b) there is an incestuous relationship between the media, the polls (most funded by the media) and the Presidential debate and public policy process.
c) global threats are not well-understood by Americans, and a major effort spanning the next generation must be undertaken to restore global or foreign affairs and foreign trade understanding to the public.
d) public budgets are neither public nor honest. They are massively distorted with a "proliferating array of taxpayer subsidies, giveaways, and bailouts (known as corporate welfare) to corporations." A recurring theme in Nader's book, based on factual legally-viable documentation, is the manner in which corporations are looting the commonwealth with the active connivance of our elected officials. The people need to wise up.
e) the Internet has *not* has the anticipated leveling effect of bringing out citizen-voters to take back the power and stop corporate socialism.
f) the non-profit organizations and popular organizations (e.g. the Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO) consistently misrepresent their members by choosing the "lesser of two evils" in the two traditionalist corporate candidates, not realizing that a) a lesser evil is still evil and b) their members are smart enough to consider third party alternatives and could--if enough such organizations banded together, cause a third party to be instantly visible as a mainstream alternative.
g) the public commonwealth (the airwaves, land, water, etc.) has been taken away from the people. It is time to get it back and demand, as one small example, that those using the airwaves granted by the public provide for free political time for all viable candidates, ending the advertising rip-off that also deprives the people of clear access to all competing views.
h) community building from the neighborhood up is the place to start. We need to focus on empowering and exciting the young people and building a cadre of volunteer civic activists that will sustain progressive public interests for the decades to come.
I would make one personal observation that was inspired by reading this book: I do not believe that any one President, from any party, is viable as a "one click" choice for leading America. In my view, the next President should not be elected without two fundamental changes in how we elect Presidents: 1) instant run-off voting must be enacted, allowing second choice votes to play a role if a third party candidate is not elected (while qualifying the third party for funding in future elections based on the first choice vote); and 2) Cabinets must be announced in advance of the election and be the focus of at least one Presidential debate including at least three but ideally four parties. It is time for a third party candidate to pull together a Cabinet that includes the best choice for key posts irrespective of parties, and specifically including the Pat Buchanan's, Sam Nunns, Colin Powells, and key others like Ross Perot, Morry Taylor, even Jello Biafra (as new Minister of Culture!).
This is really a superb book, in the tradition the Committees of Correspondence that helped bring about the American revolution, and I recommend it to all.
It pleases me to write that this book is ably edited, and a careful read-through by me turned up zero typos. On the flip side, there also are zero footnotes, and this book contains a lot of assertions which I would like to have checked sources on. There is a useful index if you're looking to relocate something within this book.
An informative list is included for further reading, although the listed periodicals appear to be chosen for their "progressive" stance as opposed to careful thinking and pursuit of the facts. What's missing from the periodical list? For starters, The Christian Science Monitor, which frequently contains content in support of the progressive agenda but without much of the "hate speech" and black-and-white rendering occasionally seen in Crashing the Party -- which, by the way, does quote from a Monitor editorial.
By "hate speech", I am referring to a tendency to resort to generalizations, stereotypes, and preconceived notions. In this book the target of such speech isn't an ethnic group, religion, gender, or sexual preference; instead it's "corporations". Assertions that "corporations" are evil are not as productive as they might appear. For one thing, the term "corporation" is more than overly broad; it's downright inaccurate. Many businesses today are not corporations but in fact are limited liability companies. It's important too that not all businesses -- whether Inc. or LLC -- are evil, but Crashing the Party doesn't concede this until page 146, where Nader writes that "there are many companies of lesser size and greater conscience", and then doesn't concede the point again.
Crashing the Party describes many problems which are very real, yet I believe that these are best tackled without the hate speech. In a similar manner, Mr. Nader describes many unfortunate behaviors which have their root in economic forces and lack of creativity, but are described instead as moral shortcomings and ethical lapses. A coincidental appearance of impropriety should not be interpreted as proof of moral turpitude, as such a leap robs the assumer of all hope for progress.
As long as I am mentioning leaps, several reviewers blame Mr. Nader's 2000 presidential run for the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States and associated deaths numbering in at least the tens of thousands. This is foolish reasoning. Mr. Nader's only failing on Iraq is not falling for the extortion inflicted by so many commentators: "a vote for Mr. Nader is a vote for __________ (insert anything which means destruction and anarchy)".
With its weaknesses, this book is nonetheless a constructive read. I couldn't give it five stars, but less than four would mislead. With that said, the book is not a quick read and is not as useful on contemporary topics as his more recent book, The Good Fight : Declare Your Independence and Close the Democracy Gap. If you have not read The Good Fight and you value your time, I suggest skipping Crashing the Party in favor of this other book by Mr. Nader with fewer words and more substance (although still no footnotes).
I am impressed by Mr. Nader's astounding personal knowledge of current and recent events, a result of decades of advocacy and tireless public service. Although I will never agree with each of his positions across the board, I find Mr. Nader's writing to be very fresh and rather informative. Concerning the weaknesses in some of his reasoning, perhaps I will find the time to write my own book and set a few things straight. As for Mr. Nader's keener observations? They are absolutely brilliant.
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Nader's high ethical standards and great ideas should be a guiding torch to our government.Read more