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“”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 (born 1934) is a
cranky old socialist consumer and environmental advocate, lawyer, author, lecturer and activist. 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 run for President of the United States four five times. Due to his consumer and environmental advocacy efforts, we now have seat-belts, clean air, and clean water partly because of him!
As he began to launch electoral races, his brain was surgically detached and replaced with that of Perot, leaving the American people with eight years of horse feces. Despite his shortcomings, much of what he said back then was true: Gore was little better than Bush on some issues, and no better than Bush on most. His objective was just to push his anti-corporate agenda onto the platform of the Democratic Party, which of course, was ultimately unsuccessful. But, as unpractical as the message was, the core of it was true, and even conservatives knew it. Nader knew he didn't have a chance of winning, and he said (long before the election took place) "if you live in Florida, or Ohio, don't vote for me!" They didn't hear him. Gore had to devote considerable resources to combating Nader.
His surgically detached brain was then put inside Bernie Sanders, who went on to do relatively well in electoral politics.
Nader campaigned tirelessly for decades for safer cars, safer food, environmental concerns, consumer rights in general, and a litany of things which 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 political acumen, or success. Although Nader in his various bids for presidency has done exceptionally well for a third party, getting nearly 3% of the total vote, he has been criticized for spending too much energy distancing himself from Democratic candidates, and not enough on his Republican opponents, causing a division in the liberal vote.
“”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. It should also be noted that 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 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. That's pretty much all Nader does anymore: talking shit and propping up wingnuts.
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.)
He is the Jason Voorhees of politics. 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.
Inverse stopped clock
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A term denoting someone from the desolate emptiness of northwestern Connecticut.