Ralph Nader

Former Presidential Candidate, Lawyer, and Consumer Advocate
November 12, 2022 - 2:00pm
Getting Mobilized to Overcome Coercive Corporatist Powers

About Ralph Nader

Born 27 February 1934 in Winsted, Connecticut, Ralph Nader is a lawyer and consumer advocate who was a candidate for the U.S. presidency in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. The son of Lebanese immigrants, he graduated from Princeton in 1955 and received a law degree from Harvard University in 1958. Nader soon became interested in unsafe vehicle designs that led to high rates of automobile accidents and fatalities. He became a consultant to the U.S. Department of Labor in 1964, and in 1965 published Unsafe at Any Speed, which criticized the U.S. auto industry and GM’s Corvair in particular for their unsafe design. This bestseller led directly to the passage of the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which gave the government the power to enact safety standards for all automobiles sold in the United States. Later, Nader was also instrumental in the passage in 1988 of California’s Proposition 103, which provided for a rollback of auto insurance rates.

Nader ran for president of the United States in 1996 but collected less than 1 percent of the vote. In 2000 he was nominated by the Green Party as its U.S. presidential candidate. His campaign focused on universal health care, environmental and consumer protections, campaign finance reform, and strengthened labour rights. In addition to his political campaigns, Nader continued his consumer activism. In the late 1990s he became a vocal critic of Microsoft, which he claimed was a monopoly. In 2014 he launched the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, a weekly news and interview show. The following year he realized a longtime dream, as the American Museum of Tort Law opened in Winsted, Connecticut; it was the first law museum in the United States. The documentary An Unreasonable Man (2006) chronicles Nader’s career.