Ralph Nader, born on this day in 1934, is a U.S. attorney and activist whose causes include consumer protection and environmentalism.
Ralph Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut to Lebanese immigrants and graduated from both Princeton and Harvard Law School. Nader identified with libertarian philosophy in his youth, but gradually shifted away from it in his early 20s. Initially opposed to public housing, Nader changed his mind when he “saw the slums and what landlords did”.
Following the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed (1965), a critical analysis of the auto industry’s safety record, Nader led a group of volunteer law students, dubbed “Nader’s Raiders”, in an investigation of the Federal Trade Commission, leading directly to that agency’s overhaul and reform.
In the 1970s and 80s, through his advocacy group “Public Citizen”, Nader continued to be involved in issues of consumer rights and public accountability. His work testifying before Congress, drafting model legislation, and organizing citizen letter-writing and protest efforts, played a role in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Clean Water Act, Consumer Product Safety Act, and Whistleblower Protection Act.
“I once said to my father, when I was a boy, ‘Dad we need a third political party.’ He said to me, ‘I’ll settle for a second.’”
– Ralph Nader