The consumer gadfly and former third-party candidate continues to offer answers to the nation’s political problems.
Having published one book of letters he had written to presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama without receiving any response (Return to Sender, 2015), Nader returns with imaginary letters he would have written to those presidents during times of crisis, an imagined encounter between Obama and the ghost of Osama bin Laden, and various lists “to promote a people’s agenda.” The author recognizes that in the public eye, he has been branded with “the politically bigoted word ‘spoiler’" since his Green Party candidacy might have tipped the 2000 election of Bush over Al Gore, but he insists that Bernie Sanders played the same role and faced the same charges: “The unfortunate truth Bernie discovered was that anybody who challenges the positions of the corporatist, militaristic, Wall Street–funded Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton…is, by their twisted definition, a ‘spoiler.’" Not that there was all that much to spoil, in Nader’s analysis, though he never says that the Democrats would be as bad as “the self-destructive, unstable, unorganized, fact- and truth-starved, egomaniacal, bigoted, cheating, plutocratic Donald Trump.” However, he holds what he calls “the ObamaBush White House” responsible for the rise of Trump and chastises Obama for not targeting his predecessor as “a war criminal.” Nader draws from old clippings and some of his own writing at the time to make familiar complaints about Obama governing more toward the center after campaigning as more of a progressive and about the claims of progressivism by the hawkish and corporate-funded Hillary. He insists that the Electoral College, responsible for Trump’s victory, is “antiquated, atavistic,” and way overdue for reform, if not removal. For the most part, though, he seems to want to have a direct voice in this discussion rather than shouting from far away on the sidelines.
Despite the occasional good point, Nader’s current influence extends no farther than preaching to the choir.