Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Steve Skrovan: Outstanding Director

An Unreasonable Man
Visit the film's website (which includes ordering information for the DVD) 

Radio Show/Podcast:
"The Ralph Nader Radio Hour"
Visit the show's website (which includes every episode for listening or download).
The show is also available in iTunes.

Steve Skrovan has worked as stand-up comic and as a writer for Everybody Loves Raymond. His 2007 film, An Unreasonable Man, is a documentary about the life and legacy of Ralph Nader, and Steve currently co-hosts a weekly radio show with David Feldman where they discuss political issues with Ralph and other guests.

Steve isn't technically an author, but he's a writer and director and so I thought it would be applicable to my podcast.  Plus as I say in the episode introduction, it's my podcast and I can do what I want!

Total run time: 1:09:09

0:01 - introduction
1:25 - Steve joins in and we discuss An Unreasonable Man
15:10 - 2000 Presidential Election
30:34 - Ralph and hypomania
36:30 - origin of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour
1:07:13 - denouement and "Stand up, Rise up"

The embedded player works best in Google Chrome.  You can also download the mp3 by clicking here, and the podcast is available in iTunes.


  1. Interesting podcast and good idea for a contact. Nader's heyday as a consumer protection advocate was before my time but I remember a significant push by fans to get him to run for President as a Democrat in 1992, which was my first exposure to him as I very closely followed that Presidential race right from its inception in the primaries. My dad always spoke fondly of him and still does. I don't know if he officially ran for President independently in 1996 or not but I know there was some level of support for him--perhaps as a write-in candidate--and he took a reasonable chunk of votes in places like the San Francisco Bay Area. But of course it was the 2000 election where Nader really entered my sphere of consciousness in a permanent way....

    I always found Nader vastly preferable to the transparently disingenuous Al Gore in the 2000 cycle but am definitely the type who votes pragmatically in general elections (and to a lesser degree even in primaries) so I voted for Gore. Mr. Skrovan discussed how Nader's goal was to get 5% for the Green Party nationally. He didn't get that nationally but in several states he did, and one of them was Minnesota. Gore only narrowly won Minnesota as a result, but for the next election cycle, the Green Party got major party status and had a participant in the debates and received public funds for the 2002 Minnesota gubernatorial race and a substantial number of lower offices. They were actually pretty well represented in local government in the city of Minneapolis, and the vision that the Green Party was hoping for was briefly realized in the state of Minnesota before the two-party duopoly once again persevered.

    The most interesting part of the podcast was hearing about Nader's hypomania and his hours per day of consuming mass quantities of information that he retained and put to use in his policy pursuits. I knew a guy in college who had hypomania and while he didn't remind me specifically of Nader I can visualize Ralph with the same condition as the guy I know.

    Whenever I see Bernie Sanders today, I think of him as something of a protege of Nader's, exhibiting some of the same tendencies in both policy and rumpled personal style. I tend not to be very idealistic anymore in attainable policy goals so the pragmatist in me tells me that Bernie as the Democratic nominee in 2016 would be a massive risk for the Democrats, he's such a vastly preferable option to Hillary Clinton in every way (and I don't think she's setting herself up as a particularly strong general election nominee either at this point) that I will nonetheless caucus for him on Monday in Iowa.

    Thanks again for the podcast.

    1. Thanks for listening. I didn't realize that the 5% carried over to the state level, and that's interesting that the green party of MN experienced some successful growth as a result. Too bad they weren't able to sustain it as I like the idea of smaller parties taking on the big boys.

      A few times on the podcast I've heard Nader discuss Bernie but he's fairly lukewarm on him (though I haven't heard any recent episodes). Ralph's main gripe is that he's tried to communicate with Bernie and give him advice, but Bernie won't return his calls. That seems to be a common theme in that Nader places a lot of letters and calls to Presidents and congressmen but they don't respond.

    2. I forgot to mention that I was a nightly viewer of "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" back in the 2000 election cycle and I recall Susan Sarandon being on there and a big champion of Nader. Interesting that she's now trying to whitewash history. She was in Des Moines boosting Bernie Sanders this past week so the timing is especially curious to hear about her retroactive disownership of Nader. Also interesting that Bernie is giving Ralph the cold shoulder. Probably another case of lingering resentment about the 2000 election.

    3. I thought it was interesting too when Steve mentioned that Moveon and Harvey Weinstein were willing to give Nader and his programs 15 million not to run in 2004 - amazing the lengths they were willing to go.

      And good luck with your caucusing. If you're so inclined, you could write a post on your blog about the caucus process -- as someone who's never experienced it, I don't really understand how it all works and would be curious to learn more.

    4. Given that there are only two candidates likely to get 85+% of the vote on the Democratic side, I don't think there will be as much to report about the caucus process this year as there has been in previous cycles with a multicandidate field. A candidate needs to get 15% of caucusgoers in a given precinct to be viable for delegates. Those who get less than 15% support in a precinct have to disperse into the camps that get more than 15%. On Monday night, if dark horse candidate Martin O'Malley gets 15% in my precinct, which seems unlikely given that he's at 2-3% in statewide polls, he will be positioned to get delegates out of my precinct. If he doesn't, his supporters will have to choose between Hillary and Bernie as their second choice to determine the delegate selection.