Lawyer, public citizen, role model. Went from Harvard Law to hellraising: his Unsafe at Any Speed drew the ire (and surveillance) of General Motors - Nader revealed the hazards of the rear-engine Chevy Corvair; the whole notion of product recalls grew out of this brouhaha. His "Nader's Raiders" of the 70s moved into general consumer-safety issues. In more recent decades, he has added fixing defective politics to his "to do" list. Past Green Party presidential candidate.

In the recent presidential election, Nader fell short of winning the 5% of the national vote which would have made the Green Party eligible for federal matching funds in the 2004 election. He did succeed, however, in making the Green Party the third largest party in the United States: this kind of brings America into line with Western Europe, where Green politics are far from marginal.

The question, however, is where to from here? The previous holders of the distinction "Third Largest Party", the Reform Party, seem to be in utter disarray: is this the ultimate fate of the Greens, or can they build on the gains they've made this year? One problem is many people think of Nader as an "Independent" candidate, rather than the representative of a significant party.

http://www.votenader.org/ carries a call to all Nader's supporters, as well as disaffected Republicans and Democrats, to join in creating progressive/Green politics in the USA:

America can do better.  The two major parties have abdicated their responsibility to lead, to advocate solutions and to promote true democracy from the city halls to Congress and the White House. We can do better.

I for one believe him, but will anybody be listening once the Presidential brouhaha dies down?

I was up at 4am watching TV. I work graveyard so it is not unusual for me to be watching TV at 4am. On one of our cable access channels was airing Ralph Nader’s Portland ORE speech. This was the first time I got to hear anything from Ralph Nader. I was impressed. I expected some crazy guy like the many of the other well-known third party candidates. Nader was well spoken and has some real cool Ideas. One that really stuck with me was opening the airwaves for people not just companies. He is also for universal health care, which I have thought is a good idea for along time. He also wants to downsize the military's budget. later that weel I was watching an interview with him and a person from both major parties and a news reporter. He defended his stance on of the military budget by saying that the military power would not be compromised. The person from the Republican Party said that at one time he used the word dismantle the military. I have not heard Nader says anything of the sort but I have not heard a lot of his speeches if any one knows please let me know. I have seen other interviews with Nader now and I have not been turn off by him yet. Unlike the other two guys.

Here's a breif description of Ralph Nader in the 60's

When Ralph Nader accused carmakers of sacrificing safety for profits in his 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed, he incurred the hostility of America's largest company, General Motors. But instead of begin intimidated, he considered it a sign of success. In the years to come he would have many such successes in his role as a David battling corporate Goliaths. Born in Connecticut in 1934, Nader attended Harvard Law School, where he became interested in the causes of suto injuries and deaths. After briefly practicing law, he worked as a government consultant investigating car accidents. This research led to his indictment of the auto industry, a hot seller that Nader publicized on the occasion by getting vehind the wheel of a bumper car. General Motors, whose Chevrolet Corvair Nader had screwered, hired detectives to investigate his personal life-which, to their dismay, was simple to the point of asceticism. Their efforts backfired; Nader sued, and GM was forced to publicly apologize and pay him a settlement of $425,000.

Nader soon shifted into high gear as a consumer-product bloodhound, gathering a small army of students and volunteers-"Nader's Raider's"-to pursue his campaigns. His idealism, incorruptibilty, and leagla acumen produced important legislative reforms. he met defeats, too, but his reformist zeal never waned. As he put it, "The essence of the citizens' movement is persistence."

1960's Project

I will never forget the time my mother almost killed Ralph Nader.

It was late summer or early fall of 1996, when Nader was running his very weak campaign for the office of President of the United States. Said mother, my aunt Shelley, and I had just attended a Nader rally at Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland, Oregon. We walked to the car and my mom started to drive us home, but Shelley noticed Nader and his small entourage egressing from the back of the school about a block away. Having a certain... fascination with him, Shelley insisted that we drive over there so she could see him up close, perhaps say hello. And so, we headed over in that direction.

Mr. Nader proceeded to jaywalk1 along with his staff to their car.

Right in front of us.

In truth, we weren't actually in danger of hitting him, though we did have to slow down, and the encounter inspired a mild look of terror in Nader's face. Needless to say, it didn't quite go as my aunt had hoped. We did roll down the window and have a brief exchange with the man, but as I remember it was awkward and unnotable.

Fortunately for my mother, I don't think that Nader remembered this incident four years later when she helped chauffeur him about Portland on a campaign stop.


(1) dirt! dirt! I have dirt on a politician!
From a pamphlet I got at a Nader lecture I just attended:
 

Honored by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Americans of the Twentieth Century, consumer activist Ralph Nader has devoted his life to giving ordinary people the tools they need to defend themselves against corporate negligence and government indifference.    With a tireless, selfless dedication, he continues to expose and remedy the dangers that threaten a free and safe society.  In 1965, Nader took on the Golaith of the auto industry with his book, Unsafe at Any Speed, a shocking expose of the disregard car makers held for the safety of their customers.  The Senate hearing into Nader's accusations and the motor vehicle laws that resulted catapulted Nader into the public sphere.

Nader whickly built on the momentum of that success.  Working with lawmakers, he was instrumental in creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Laws he helped draft and pass include the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Meat and Poultry Inspection rules, and the Freedom of Information Act.  Working to empower the average American, Nader has formed numerous citizen groups, including the Center for Auto Safety, Public Citizen, Pension Rights Center, the Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest, and the student public interest research groups (PIRGs) that operate in over twenty states.  In his latest citizen initiative, he is working with alumni classes, including his own at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, to redirect their efforts from parties and reunions to volunteerism and community projects.

Believing that Republicans and Democrats are so close ideologically he calls them "tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum," Nader organized presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996 to challenge the "duopoly" of the two-party system.  His goal is to build the foundation of a third political party that rallies around issues rather than colorful figureheads.  His best-sselling books include Winning the Insurance Game, Why Women Pay More, and Getting the Best from Your Doctor.  His most recent consumer education books are Children First: A Parents Guide to Fighting Corporate Predators and No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America.

Nader is listened to intently by both private and corporate audiences. Years after they graduate, college students tell him how his lecture evening changed their lives.  His message is simple and compelling: "To go through life as a non-citizen would be to feel that there's nothing you can do, that nobody's listening, that you don't matter.  But to be a citizen is to enjoy the deep satisfaction of seeing pain prevented, misery avoided, and injustice decline."

Ralph Nader first became famous when, in 1965, he published Unsafe at Any Speed, a book which exposed the unsafe designs in the automobile industry, specifically that of early model Chevrolet Corvairs. The book lead to the passage of a series of automobile safety laws soon thereafter. Since then, Nader has often been seen as a champion of consumers' rights, attempting to reduce corporate influence in government and bring about more industry regulation like that which resulted from Unsafe at Any Speed. In 1992, 1996, and 2000, Ralph Nader ran for President of the United States as the Green Party (a left-wing political party with a heavy emphasis on environmentalism) candidate.

Nader was born in Winstead, Connecticut on 27 February, 1934 to Nathra and Rose Nader, Lebenese immigrants. Nader graduated from Princeton University in 1955 magna cum laude and, in 1958, from Harvard Law. Nader began his career as a lawyer in Hartford, Connecticut the next year, as well as publishing an article titled "The Safe Car You Can't Buy" in The Nation, claiming the automotive industry was designing cars with style, cost, planned obsolescence, etc. in mind but not the safety of the vehicles' passengers. From 1961 to 1963, Nader lectured at the University of Hartford on the topics of history and government. In 1963 he was employed by the US Department of Labor as a consultant and volunteered to advise a Senate subcommittee studying automobile safety.

In 1965, Nader's book Unsafe at Any Speed was published, attacking the auto industry for lax safety standards (specifically General Motors, who owned Chevrolet, which produced the Corvair). Nader's influence was key in passing the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The next year, Ralph Nader was again influential in the passage of the Wholesome Meat Act, which created government-enforced standards which slaughterhouses had to follow and resulted in federal inspection of meat being sold. In the years since these acts were passed, Ralph Nader has held at least a strong influence in the passing of several other federal "consumer protection" acts, such as the Freedom of Information Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, and bills which lead to the creation of regulatory organizations such as the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Product Safety Administration.

Nader's influence was felt not only by Congress but left-wing activists throughout the country. "Nader's Raiders," as they were called, began campaigning for the reduction of corporate power and improved protection for consumers and the environment. In 1969, Ralph Nader founded the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, an organization dedicated to showing the public any lack of responsibility by corporations and failure of the federal government to regulate businesses as they should according to laws that had been passed. In 1971, Nader founded the Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) and Public Citizen.

PIRGs are student-funded organizations bringing environmental and energy problems to the attention of the media and lobbying, usually on the state level, for various laws usually relating to the same issues Ralph Nader has been and is still so vocal about. Public Citizen is a large umbrella organization for various smaller organizations with many of the same, typically-radical-left-wing-type objectives. In 1980, Nader resigned as the director of Public Citizen to devote more time and energy to other projects, such as Multinational Monitor magazine, which he founded that year. Multinational Monitor seeks to keep track of multinational corporations' impact on labor, the environment, and poorer nations' development throughout the world.

Despite being such a strong advocate of consumers and "the little guy," there seems to be a lot of nasty rumors about Ralph Nader with regard to how much money he actually has/makes, what property(ies) he owns, and how he treats those working under him. Ordinarily such rumors might be easy to dismiss but some of them seem to carry quite a bit of credibility. Realchange.org, a website devoted to digging up dirt on politicians, cites a considerable number of ex-employees of Nader claiming he required extremely long hours of work for extremely low pay from those under him. The site also presents evidence that Nader successfully broke a union that workers under him attempted to form in much the same manner as some corporations have done to unions formed by their employees. In addition, the site shows evidence that Nader has used family members to act as legal owners of some of his properties and organizations to avoid paying certain property and income taxes.

So is any of it true?

Well, I wouldn't even be considering any of the allegations of hypocrisy had realchange.org not bothered to cite sources for its information. The site presents the "dirt" in a sensationalist manner, much like a tabloid would, trying to make each politician it has information on sound as bad as possible. This is exceptionally obvious on realchange.org's page regarding Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party's candidate in 1996 and 2000, where the website's creator(s), having little "dirt" on the man, present a couple decontextualized quotes and attack Browne's character in a pathetically argued manner. The page on Browne tries to be vindictive but lacks enough information to do so. The page devoted to the dirt on Ralph Nader, however, is much more complete and cites a lot of sources (they're listed at the bottom of http://www.realchange.org/nader.htm). While some of the allegations are likely outright bullshit or, at the very least, exaggerated, it does stand to reason that a number of them might be true. Something to keep in mind, at the very least, and investigate further, if possible, before casting a vote for the man.

Moving on...

In the 2000 Presidential election, Ralph Nader and the Green Party received the most support they ever have on a national level. There is some speculation as to whether this was good or bad. The race between the two primary candidates, Republican George W. Bush (who won) and Democrat Al Gore, proved to be one of the closest elections in United States history (and not merely because of the Florida ballot debacle). Had Nader's supporters voted for Gore instead, Gore would have won the election, leading to many claiming that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush (arguing that by voting third party is not only throwing one's vote away but actually helping a candidate the voter would be more opposed to than another - similar to a right-wing voter supporting Ross Perot in 1996 instead of Bob Dole). Nader attempted to draw support from voters who would otherwise vote for Gore by claiming the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is negligible as both parties are in the pockets of corporations. While I do disagree that the difference is negligible, Nader does have a point: On certain issues there is little difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Change in government policy is a lot harder to make with only two candidates to choose from and I doubt anyone enjoys voting for what he/she considers a "lesser evil." Nevertheless, I wouldn't just randomly choose one of the two major parties to lead the country. There are differences.

Ralph Nader and his supporters knew that the Greens wouldn't be winning the presidency this time around. That much was obvious. There were still goals to be achieved with the 2000 election for the Green Party. One was increased awareness by the general public of who Ralph Nader/the Green Party is. This has, undoubtedly, been achieved at least in the sense that most people are aware of their existence. What Nader stands for, however, may not be as well known. Another important goal was to get at least five percent of the vote. This would mean that the Green Party would receive some federal funding for their campaign in 2004. Unfortunately, for the Greens and their constituents, Nader failed to garner five percent of the votes (gathering somewhere between only two and three precent).

During 2000, Nader had his fair share of publicity prior to the election as well. The people running the televised presidential debates between Bush and Gore not only refused to allow Nader to take part but went so far as to disallow Nader's presence as a member of the audience, despite the fact that he had a ticket. Nader was also sued by MasterCard for a parody of MasterCard's ad campaign that was available through Nader's website. Ultimately, the lawsuit was unsuccessful, the judge deciding that the spoof had not been used to make a profit and, as a result, Nader didn't have to pay the MasterCard folk anything for using their ad style.

Since it seems many people aren't sure what Ralph Nader stands for aside from his famous anti-corporate/consumers' rights/workers' rights stance that first got him noticed, I've assembled a list here of other political stances he holds. The information was obtained from a pre-2000 election incarnation of votenader.org (the site has since been scaled down to a few links to other Nader-related resources).

Ralph Nader...

Ralph Nader has also been an (co-)author of several books, including (I have excluded any titles where he merely contributed an introduction or similar small piece from this non-exhaustive list)...

Note: Quite a few of these are out of print, according to amazon.com.

Sources:
http://www.nader.org/
http://www.votenader.org/ (as it appeared circa the 2000 US Presidential election)
http://www.realchange.org/nader.htm
http://www.issues2000.org/Ralph_Nader.htm
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/ralphnader1.html
http://www.amazon.com/

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