RALPH NADER Biography - Activists, Revolutionaries and other freedom fighters

 
 

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RALPH NADER

Ralph Nader is American's most renowned and effective crusader     
for the rights of consumers and the general public, a role         
that has repeatedly brought him into conflict with both             
business and government.                                           
Ralph Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut to Nathra and         
Rose Nader, Lebanese immigrants who operated a restaurant and       
bakery. Nader's dream of becoming a "people's lawyer" was           
instilled in him in adolescence by his parents, who in noisy       
free-for-alls, conducted family seminars on the duties of           
citizenship in a democracy. Mark Green, a former Nader             
associate, said that "When (the Naders) sat around the table       
growing up it was like the Kennedys. Except that the subject       
was not power but justice."                                         
Following his graduation in 1951 from Gilbert School, Nader         
entered the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs at       
Princeton University. Graduating magna cum laude in 1955, with     
a major in government and economics, Nader enrolled in Harvard     
Law School. He became an editor of the Harvard Law Review, and     
after graduating with honors, set up a small legal practice         
and traveled widely.                                               
The young attorney became distressed by the indifference of         
American corporations to the global consequences of their           
actions, and he began to speak out against the abuse of             
corporate power. He first made headlines in 1965 with his           
book, Unsafe at Any Speed, which took the auto industry to         
task for producing unsafe vehicles. Nader became an American       
folk hero when executives of General Motors hired private           
detectives to harass him and then publicly apologized before a     
nationally televised Senate committee hearing.                     
                                                                     
The consumer advocate went on to create an organization of         
energetic young lawyers and researchers (often called "Nader's     
Raiders") who produced systematic exposÚs of industrial             
hazards, pollution, unsafe products, and governmental neglect       
of consumer safety laws. Nader is widely recognized as the         
founder of the consumers' rights movement. He played a key         
role in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency,       
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Freedom     
of Information Act and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.     
He has continued to work for consumer safety and for the           
reform of the political system through his group Public             
Citizen.                                                           
For many years, Ralph Nader has harshly criticized the two         
major political parties for preserving a campaign finance           
system that makes them both dependent on wealthy contributors.     
In 1996 he appeared on the ballot in some states as the             
Presidential candidate of the Green Party, but ran a largely       
symbolic campaign, making only a handful of public appearances     
to promote his candidacy. He made a more substantial effort in     
2000, running nationwide as the candidate of the Green Party.       
He won nearly three million votes nationwide, close to three       
percent of the votes cast. After the closest presidential           
election in American history, many Democrats blamed Nader for       
their loss of the presidency. They speculated that had Nader       
not entered the race, they would have won enough of Nader's         
voters in either one of two states to shift the balance of         
electoral victory in their favor. Despite opposition from many     
of his previous supporters, Ralph Nader determined to run for       
president a third time in 2004, as in independent candidate.       
He lives and maintains his offices in Washington, DC.