Ralph Nader:
Naked Messiah

Kenneth Cauthen
Ralph Nader:

1. has a Messiah complex. He believes himself to be the chosen one to restore justice and goodness to the nation. He is a disciplined ascetic who is fully dedicated to his cause. He is unmarried, has no children, owns no car, lives modestly, and works long hours. Reportedly, his mother would not let him play with toys when he was a child. No diversions were allowed to turn the designated one away from serious matters.

2. has a fundamentalist mentality. Only he has the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. No deviations from his inspired word are permitted, since those outside his world-view have only distortions of the truth.

3. is a fanatic. He is willing to do untold damage to institutions and people for the sake of pursuing his shining goal. Nader agrees with George Wallace that "there ain't a dime's worth of difference" between the Democrats and the Republicans. Hence, the destruction of one or both of them is a small price to pay for the relentless pursuit of his singular vision of truth and goodness. No appeals that he may  help elect the presidential candidate who will continue the assualt on his dream sway him in the least. Nothing matters but his view of the world.

4. is a prophet. He deserves much credit for speaking truth to power for decades. He exposes the painful, disgusting fact that both parties are close to being to bought off by corporate power. He sees clearly what most politicians deny and what most people are not angry enough about. He has been a voice in the wilderness proclaiming the truth that most others miss or try to avoid and has been able to do so because he is not dependent on the predators for his support.

5. is a failure as a politician. Politics is the art of the possible involving compromise and trade-offs and is beset with baffling ambiguities. Politics is the pursuit of the better when the best is impossible to attain, at least right now. It will sometimes settle for the least of two evils when necessary in order to avoid the worst. Nader will have none of this. He has a moral clarity that is illusory  in the messy world of government where competing interests struggle with adversaries for a margin of power. He does not know how to combine his idealism with a realism that can actually get something done. He has not learned the lesson taught by Reinhold Niebuhr that sometimes a slightly more just policy than available alternatives may make a great deal of difference for good in the lives of many people. Nader is willing to forgo small gains and to risk even greater injustice in the fanatical pursuit of his fundamentalist vision as the chosen one for this age. Michael Harrington, as a democratic socialist, also had a radical vision of justice and equality, but while he worked privately with socialists, he worked politically in the left wing of the Democratic Party, thus becoming a player in the actual struggle for justice that promised small gains when the ultimate vision could not be achieved at the moment.

Nader as a prophet is a national treasure. As a messianic politician, he is a disaster.

There is a time and place for an ideal moral vision beyond imminent achievement. There is a time to be morally uncompromising, for independent candidates, for idealists in pursuit of a vision not power, BUT NOT IN 2004, when the compelling moral task is to get rid of George W. Bush and to replace him with a better if not perfect alternative.

This is one of many essays on theology and ethics on this site. The best place to begin is:

Essays on Theology and Ethics

I invite comments, criticisms, refutations, suggestions, and corrections.

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My E-Mail Address

If you want to take a break for some fun before you get to the serious stuff, the links below will take you to some short videos  of a humorous nature that I made. They poke good-natured fun at some funny aspects of religion, churches, theology, right-wing Protestant religion, and the mixture of right-wing religion and politics. They are designed purely for entertainment and laughter. I hope you enjoy them.  Here is a list of my movies that play on Windows Media Player.

Customized Church, Part 1

Customized Church, Part 2

Customized Church, Part 3

In addition, I have added my most explosive production so far. It is called Accident-Free Worshiping
and can be accessed at the following link:

For the goings on at Purity Baptist Church, check this out:

For insight into how religion and patriotism may be combined:

Here is a church that goes strictly by the Bible with a verse to support each policy.

The real meaning of original sin:

This is one in a series of essays on theological and ethical topics. The best place to start is:
Theological Essays
Presently, the following essays on theological and ethical topics are available:

About the Author
A List of my Books
Interpreting the Bible Today
The Authority of the Bible
Using the Bible with Integrity
Theology as Religious Belief
What I Believe
Natural Law and Moral Relativism
What is Truth -- and Does it Matter?
A Doctrine of God (Short Version)
A Doctrine of God (Long Version)
Trinity: God, Christ, Spirit
God as Masculine and Feminine
Theodicy: the Problem of Evil
Theodicy: A Heterodox Alternative
The Many Faces of Evil
A Contemporary Christology
Christ and Christians
A Critique of Niebuhr's Christ and Culture
The Incompatibility of Christianity and Civilization
Christian Ethics
Process Christian Ethics
The Ethics of Belief
Relativism, Morality, Belief
Religion and Politics: Relating Jesus to Jefferson
Liberation Themes in Country Music
Liberation Themes in White Southerners
Southern Tragedy
Capital Punishment
Physician Assisted Suicide
Prescription Drugs and the Little Red Hen
Bioethical Decision-Making
Drug Policy
Theology and Ecology
Religion and Politics
Science and Theology
Church and State
A Short Biographical Sketch
For an updated version of Mother Goose for the modern age, visit
Mother Goose Goes Electronic

Having a Web site is becoming a family enterprise. First to have a Page was my son.
Paul Cauthen
The latest entry is that of my son-in-law and daughter.
Ric Brown and Nancy Cauthen
These sites are very different, but both are creative, imaginative productions. They would welcome a visit.
Please remove * in my e-mail address before sending. The * was added to thwart spammers. Thank you.
My E-Mail Address
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Created Tuesday, February 23, 2004.