|God, guns, and freedom|
|Starting arguments over Thanksgiving dinner|
|Persons of interest|
“”Me name be Ralph Nader, me going to make an appeal. Homies, save the rainforest. Aight? Keep it real.
|—Nader, "appeal"ing to the |
Ralph Nader (1934–) is a podcast host, founder of multiple consumer advocate non-profits including Public Citizen, environmental advocate, lawyer, former politician, and author. Nader remains one of the only true raggies[note 1] to make a real difference in the world. He could be best described as a social democrat and has at times positioned himself as a populist. Due to his consumer and environmental advocacy efforts starting in the 1960s-1970s, United States citizens have universal seat-belts, as well as relatively clean air and relatively clean water again partly because of him.
He's run for President of the United States
four five times as a third party and independent candidate. After watching Bernie Sanders' (late) rise in the Democratic Party on a similar platform to his own, Nader began to express public remorse about not running under the Democratic Party. However, the remorse was not due to reasons relating to the spoiler effect.
Nader campaigned tirelessly for decades for safer cars, safer food, environmental concerns, consumer rights in general, and a litany of things that we now take for granted.
These are some of the things Nader, with his "Nader's Raiders," has had an important role in getting passed:
- Freedom of Information Act (1966)
- National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act (1966)
- Wholesome Meat Act (1967)
- Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act (1968)
- Clean Water Act (1968) 
- Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act (1969)
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970)
- Environmental Protection Agency (1970)
- Clean Air Act (1970) 
- Safe Water Drinking Act (1974)
- Mine Health and Safety Act (1977)
- Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (1977)
- Co-op Bank Bill (1978)
- Whistleblower Protection Act (1989)
- Nuclear power safety
- Consumer credit disclosure law
- Medical devices safety
- Mobile home safety
- Pension protection law
- Seat belt laws
- Passive restraint laws
- Remuneration of airline tickets when flights are bumped
- Precedent on invasion of privacy lawsuits
“”Leno: What do you do for fun?
|—The Tonight Show 9.12.00.|
Nader has attempted to leverage his well-known work as a consumer advocate into a political career. However, his insights and energy from this arena have not translated well into electoral acumen or success. It's unknown if Nader would have made any headway in Democratic primaries, but him running outside the two major parties all but guaranteed he would not win. These campaigns were therefore mostly vanity campaigns, consciousness-raising campaigns, and/or protest campaigns, depending on how you view Nader. Nader ultimately performed relatively well for an American third party and independent presidential candidate, getting at most 3% of the total vote. Only about 20% of American elections have resulted in a third party candidate getting more than 5% of the vote, and most of all these elections were before 1912. Third party presidential candidates usually get around 1% or less. This is due to the first-past-the-post presidential voting voting system in the United States which by nature discourages voting outside two established parties.
“”A bumbling Texas governor would galvanize the environmental community as never before.
|—Nader, one week before election night|
If we've learned one thing from '92, 2000, and 2016, it's that "single-issue" candidates can become serious candidates very quickly.
Ralph Nader is typically blamed for costing Gore the 2000 Presidential race, especially in Florida. Bush won other states such as New Hampshire by very small margins, indicating that had Nader not run, Gore would have been able to make up for possible election fraud (and/or plain voter problems) in Florida. It is usually countered that had Gore taken his home state of Tennessee, he would have easily won. Other factors in the election included Bill Clinton's impeachment scandal, which forced Gore to distance himself from the popular incumbent president. Nader did pick up about 24,000 votes from Democrats in Florida, which would appear to make him a spoiler considering Bush "officially" won the state by about 500 votes. However, over 300,000 Florida Democrats (including about 190,000 self-described "liberals") voted for... wait for it... Bush. If Gore had picked up just one percent of those Democrats, he would've easily won the state and the presidency. But it's much easier to just blame Nader for the loss than to do a little self-reflection, so in 2004, the Democrats repeated their mistake and picked another boring old policy-wonk who sucked at defending himself from political attacks to lose to Bush.
You can kind of see it in interviews and a few statements from Nader's friends; he's got a side to him which is pretty vain. People forget now, but there was a lot of hostility toward Bill Clinton coming from the left. He helped form the Democratic Leadership Council, which dragged the Democratic Party away from its post-Vietnam liberalism and back into the hands of Third Way Democrats, leaving Nader and his progressives allies out in the cold. His revenge was outright, teaching a generation of voters that Democrats are "anesthesizers", "worse" than Republicans.
Instead of pursuing his hopeless campaign, Nader could have had a sit down with Gore. Nader could have picked the Attorney General; he could have had veto over SCOTUS nominations. In Sept/Oct of 2000, Nader had more political power than he had ever had in his life; he had more opportunity to promote his own causes than ever before. We went ahead with the election. Now he's a talk show punchline.
Nader announced on 24 February 2008 that he was once again a candidate for the office of President of the United States, much to the confusion, alarm, and chagrin of the Democratic Party and its supporters. He did not win. (Nader is two years older than John McCain. Either would have been older upon taking office than was Ronald Reagan.)
Nader v. General Motors Corp. 1970
Nader filed a Tort action against General Motors accusing them of invasion of privacy and harassment. This was after Nader published a popular expose of safety flaws in GM's automobiles. He accused GM of hiring women to seduce him for intel, harassing him via phone, tapping his phone, and recording private conversations. Nader settled the case against GM, winning $425,000.
Naders 8 lawsuits against election officials in 6 states, 2004
Ralph battled election officials in multiple states during 2004. He argued that because these states require many more signatures for independent candidates to appear on the ballot than non-independent candidates, that this was unconstitutional, among other miscellaneous legal complaints. He partially argued that prior court decisions entitled him to injunctive relief to appear on the relevant ballots. In the past, federals courts have indeed issued injunctive relief for third party or independent candidates to appear on the ballot, despite a lack of signatures, if they had media coverage. Such relief had been granted to prior presidential candidates including George Wallace and Ross Perot. Nader lost this case. Richard Winger argued in an academic paper that these decisions against Nader were an example of judges disenfranchising voters in a way that defied legal precedent, and in a way that made many legal errors.
Nader proceeded to call his legal loss fascism and sued the DNC 3 years later.
Nader v. DNC 2007
Nader filed a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee accusing Democrats of conspiring to keep him off the 2004 presidential ballot. This was after, among other events, Democrats in Pennsylvania filed 2 lawsuits against Nader's petitioning effort to appear on the Pennsylvania ballot. A federal appeals court in Washington DC dismissed Nader's lawsuit against the DNC as being filed too late, due to a 3 year statute of limitations.
Following much stomping of feet for not being allowed to appear in at least 2-3 prior presidential debates, Nader worked with director Jürgen Vsych to produce a half-satirical virtual presidential debate. In this virtual debate Nader argues with small puppets of George Bush and John Kerry. He later sold a videotape of this to his followers. Almost all of this footage remains lost to time.
Florida would have been stolen without him, but his string of idiotic pronouncements, and his habit of taking money from Repubs who use him for their own ends, unfortunately does relegate him to the title of crank.
In February 2012, Ralph Nader chose not to run, instead endorsing former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, and also praising Ron Paul for their shared opposition to aggressive foreign policy. He tacitly supported Rand Paul and Donald Trump in the 2016 election, though he did not endorse. And his pronouncement that Palin isn't a corporatist is just idiotic.
Being mostly unwelcome in congress and media nowadays, Nader has been writing one way letters to politicians and advocating media make a return to local and national paper newspapers. His most famous non-profit, Public Citizen appeared to disavow him for years after his political forays, before inviting him back to give speeches.
His podcast is pretty dry and non-sensational. In it, he argues for causes such as how-bad-Bush-was, how-bad-Trump-was, and argues against self-driving cars.
He also is extremely against NIMBYs; advocating public land, including the freedom for any citizen to walk in any neighbors yard without being arrested.
He also criticizes nuclear waste and accidents, advocates for Medicare for All, climate reform, and talks a lot with former New York Times journalist Chris Hedges.
Among many, many, others:
- Unsafe at Any Speed — This book resulted in GM ending production of the Chevrolet Corvair for the American road, much to the dismay of enthusiasts who didn't mind a little carbon monoxide with their thrills.
- Only the super rich can save us — Lending a conclusion that he is not at all a socialist or communist, Ralph wrote an entire book advocating a billionaire to become president and before Trump ran. Nader was explicitly advocating Oprah Winfrey (among 4-5 other potential super wealthy people) to become president, and not someone like Trump. Nader advocated that instead of emotionally antagonizing all of the rich, average Americans could possibly elevate the most moral rich people to use their power for good, including running for elected office on a social justice platform.
- Bernie Sanders: Bern didn't endorse Nader when he was running against Bill Clinton and he was pretty salty about it. It probably doesn't help Bernie's chances of getting an endorsement from him now.
- A term denoting someone from the desolate emptiness of northwestern Connecticut.
- An Unreasonable Man (documentary on Ralph Nader), 2005  at 36:00
- Henneberger, Melinda, "THE 2000 CAMPAIGN: THE GREEN PARTY; Nader Sees a Bright Side to a Bush Victory", NYT 11.1.00.
- Hightower, Jim "How Florida Democrats torpedoed Gore"
- "Ralph Nader on Bernie Sanders' Presidential Bid & His Unanswered Letters to the White House", Democracy Now! 5.18.15. "Look, you’re all lone rangers doing good things, but you’re going nowhere. So why don’t you get together into a caucus...." Hey, Ralph, that's a great idea. I wonder why nobody thought of it before.
- Levine, Harry G., "Ralph Nader, Suicide Bomber", Village Voice, 4.27.04. You get the impression that he genuinely hated Gore.
- Gavin, Patrick, "Nader: Obama's a 'war criminal'", Politico (09/25/12 12:56 PM EDT).
- Kampreas, Ron, "Nader Now Concedes That Bush Will Cause More Damage Than Gore", Common Dreams 12.30.20.
- "Nader vs. Reality", Daily Kos (7/25/04 at 1:29 AM PDT). Nader: I don't think government should tell women to have children or not to have children. I am also against feticide. If doctors think it is a fetus, that should be banned." (???????)
- Newell, Jim, "Ralph Nader Still Working Hard To Completely Ruin His Legacy", Wonkette (11/5/08, at 4:39pm).
- Cushing, Tim, "Ralph Nader Makes First Serious Bid For 'Crazy Old Man' Position; Refers To Video Games As 'Electronic Child Molesters'", TechDirt (1/23/13 at 8:29am). "Show me on the cartridges where Mortal Kombat touched you."
- Gavin, Patrick, "Ralph Nader outlines 2016 plan", Politico (06/24/13 05:30 PM EDT).
- Marinucci, Carla, "Nader defends GOP cash / Candidate says he's keeping money", SFGate (7/10/04 at 4:00 am).
- "On the Phone With Ralph Nader", Salon (7/14/04 at 12:56 PM PST). Nader: "Really? Will you ask the Democrats to give back all the money they’ve gotten from Republicans?" (He also plays down the role of
Daddy WarbucksRupert Murdoch in shaping GOP policy.)
- Mapes, Jeff, "Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson will get on presidential ballot in Oregon; receives Ralph Nader's backing", Oregon Live (4/10/12 at 2:58 PM).
- Scher, Bill, "Ralph Nader wants liberals to back Rand Paul. Don't do it.", The Week 5.1.14.
- Walker, Jesse, "What Ralph Nader Likes About Donald Trump (And what he doesn't like about Hillary Clinton)", Reason (5/16/16 11:55 am).
- Dolan, Eric, W., "Ralph Nader: Palin should be commended", Raw Story (9/2/11 at 19:27 ET).
- "Ralph Nader on Water Fluoridation" (Sigh)
- PBS interview with Nader
- Kelly, Kevin J., "Left Out: Bernie Sanders and Ralph Nader Part Company ", Seven Days 11.13.96.