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Ralph Nader to Patti Smith, Union Square Crowd: People Have the Power

.Mary Reinholz

Ralph Nader isn’t on the ballot this year, but the consumer advocate managed to fire up around 350 people, including rocker-writer Patti Smith, at Barnes and Noble in Union Square last night.

Introduced by former public advocate Mark Green, Mr. Nader touched on themes from his new paperback, “The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future,” and recalled how mass movements led by a handful of people produced radical change.

These days, Mr. Nader said, many everyday folks seem to have lost their passion for activism and have become far more narrowly focused – and with lame excuses to justify it. “They’ll tell you,” he said drily, “that they’re too busy changing their profile on Facebook.”

Others, he noted, fear being ostracized or crushed by the powers that be because of their belief that the “the big boys own the system and you can’t control it. There’s been a loss of nerve. But it took six women in 1840 to start the suffrage movement” in New York, he said.  Read more…