From an interview with Tyler Cowen.
If you look at the history of nations, major redirections for justice were brought about by never more than 1 percent of the active citizenry. Whether it was civil rights, the environment, or consumer protection, they had one asset: They represented what Abraham Lincoln called the “public sentiment.” Nowadays people give up on themselves and rationalize their own powerlessness, but it takes very few people in congressional districts and around the country to make major, long-overdue changes in American society that are supported by large numbers of people.
In other words, the Ralph Naders of the world are the heroes. People with great moral vision who use the forces of activism and government to overcome the evils of the private sector.
Unfortunately, what is required to become a Ralph Nader is an unshakable belief in your own righteousness and in the wrongheadedness of those with whom you disagree. Tyler tries to get Nader to admit that he has gotten something wrong, and all Nader can come with is
I underestimated the power of corporations to crumble the countervailing force we call government.
To me, Nader’s absolute certainty about his own righteousness makes the whole idea of an alliance involving him untenable. If you are that certain of yourself, then you cannot accept other people on equal terms. Working with him cannot involve give-and-take. It has to be obedience.