Ralph Nader

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Political People

Ralph Nader (born February 27, 1934) is an American attorney and political activist. Issues he has promoted include consumer rights, feminism, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government. Nader has also been a critic of American foreign policy in recent decades, which he views as corporatist, imperialist, and contrary to the fundamental values of democracy and human rights. His activism has played a large part in the creation of many governmental and non-governmental organizations, such as the EPA, OSHA, Public Citizen, PIRGs and many more.

Nader ran for President of the United States four times (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004). In 1996 and 2000 he was the nominee of the Green Party; Winona LaDuke was his vice-presidential running mate. In 2004 he ran as an independent with Green activist Peter Miguel Camejo as his vice-presidential nominee.

Nader speaks many languages, including English, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish .

Early career

Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut. His parents, Nathra and Rose Nader, were Lebanese Christian immigrants, but he has always declined to name his family's religion.

He has three siblings:

  • Shafeek Nader, Ralph's older brother and the founder of the Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest, died of prostate cancer in 1986.
  • Laura Nader Milleron, (a PhD holder and anthropology professor at the University of California, Berkeley).
  • Claire Nader (a PhD holder and founder of the Council for Responsible Genetics).

Nathra Nader was employed in a nearby textile mill and at one point owned a bakery and restaurant where he engaged customers in discussions of political issues.

Ralph graduated from Princeton University in 1955 and Harvard Law School in 1958. He served in the United States Army for six months in 1959, then began work as a lawyer in Hartford. Between 1961 and 1963, he was a Professor of History and Government at the University of Hartford. In 1964, Nader moved to Washington, D.C. and got a job working for then-Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He later did freelance writing for The Nation and the Christian Science Monitor. He also advised a Senate subcommittee on automobile safety. In the early 1980s, Nader spearheaded a powerful lobby against FDA approval allowing for mass-scale experimentation of artificial lens implants. In later years he has been writing for The Progressive Populist .

Nader is known for his personal frugality and his objection to commercialism. Current Biography reported in 1986 that just before leaving the Army in 1959 Nader made one last visit to the Army post exchange where he purchased twelve pairs of shoes and four dozen sturdy cotton military issue socks. The report goes on to say that as of the mid-1980s Nader had not yet worn out those socks.

Clash with the automobile industry

In 1965 Nader released Unsafe at Any Speed, a study that purported to demonstrate unsafe engineering of many American automobiles, especially the Chevrolet Corvair and General Motors. GM tried to discredit Nader, hiring private detectives to tap his phones, investigate his past, and hiring prostitutes to trap him in a compromising situation. GM failed to turn up any wrongdoing. Upon learning this, Nader successfully sued the company for invasion of privacy, forced it to publicly apologize, and used much of his $284,000 net settlement to expand his consumer rights efforts. Nader's lawsuit against GM was ultimately decided by the New York Court of Appeals, whose opinion in the case expanded tort law to cover "overzealous surveillance". Ironically, a 1972 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety commission study conducted by Texas A&M university ultimately exonerated the Corvair and declared it possessed no greater potential for loss of control than its contemporaries in extreme situations.


Hundreds of young activists, inspired by Nader's work, came to DC to help him with other projects. They came to be known as "Nader's Raiders" and, led by Nader, they investigated corruption throughout government, publishing dozens of books with their results:

  • Nader's Raiders ( Federal Trade Commission)
  • Vanishing Air ( National Air Pollution Control Administration)
  • The Chemical Feast ( Food and Drug Administration)
  • The Interstate Commerce Omission ( Interstate Commerce Commission)
  • Old Age (nursing homes)
  • The Water Lords (water pollution)
  • Who Runs Congress? (congress)
  • Whistle Blowing (punishment of whistle blowers)
  • The Big Boys (corporate executives)
  • Collision Course ( Federal Aviation Administration)
  • No Contest (corporate lawyers)
  • Destroy the Forest (Destruction of ecosystems worldwide)
  • Operation:Nuclear (Making of a Nuclear Missile)

In 1971, Nader founded the NGO Public Citizen as an umbrella organization for these projects. Today, Public Citizen has over 140,000 members and numerous researchers investigating Congress, health, environmental, economic, and other issues. Their work is credited with helping to pass the Safe Drinking Water Act and Freedom of Information Act and prompting the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Non-profit organizations

In 1980, Nader resigned as director of Public Citizen to work on other projects, especially campaigning against the believed dangers of large multinational corporations. He went on to start a variety of non-profit organizations:

  • Capitol Hill News Service
  • Citizen Advocacy Centre
  • Congress Accountability Project
  • Consumer Task Force For Automotive Issues
  • Corporate Accountability Research Project
  • Disability Rights Centre
  • Equal Justice Foundation
  • Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights
  • Georgia Legal Watch
  • National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform
  • National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest
  • Pension Rights Centre
  • PROD (truck safety)
  • Retired Professionals Action Group
  • The Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest
  • 1969: Centre for the Study of Responsive Law
  • 1970s: Public Interest Research Groups
  • 1970: Centre for Auto Safety
  • 1970: Connecticut Citizen Action Group
  • 1971: Aviation Consumer Action Project
  • 1972: Clean Water Action Project
  • 1972: Centre for Women's Policy Studies
  • 1980: Multinational Monitor (magazine covering multinational corporations)
  • 1982: Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
  • 1982: Essential Information (encourage citizen activism and do investigative journalism)
  • 1983: Telecommunications Research and Action Centre
  • 1983: National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest
  • 1989: Princeton Project 55 (alumni public service)
  • 1993: Appleseed Foundation (local change)
  • 1994: Resource Consumption Alliance (conserve trees)
  • 1995: Centre for Insurance Research
  • 1995: Consumer Project on Technology
  • 1997?: Government Purchasing Project (encourage the government to purchase safe and healthy products)
  • 1998: Centre for Justice and Democracy
  • 1998: Organization for Competitive Markets
  • 1998: American Antitrust Institute (ensure fair competition)
  • 1999?: Arizona Centre for Law in the Public Interest
  • 1999?: Commercial Alert (protect family, community, and democracy from corporations)
  • 2000: Congressional Accountability Project (fight corruption in Congress)
  • 2001?: League of Fans (sports industry watchdog)
  • 2001: Citizen Works (promote NGO cooperation, build grassroots support, and start new groups)
  • 2001: Democracy Rising (hold rallies to educate and empower citizens)

Consumer advocacy, public interest, and civic action

Because much of his early work involved advocacy to protect consumers (and workers) from unsafe products, Ralph Nader is often referred to as a "consumer advocate." This description should not be misunderstood to suggest that Nader is an advocate of consumption. On the contrary, his message of civic engagement (citizen activism in the public interest), like his harsh critique of "rapacious" corporations, calls for resistance to commercially-driven consumer culture. According to Nader, mass advertising creates artificial and often harmful desires . Nader's "consumer" should not be conceived as a free-spending shopper, but rather as an active participant in democratic institutions . For example, in his critique of television news as largely empty sensationalism, Nader acknowledges that most Americans may have been trained to behave as passive "consumers" of what passes for news, but Nader's call for engagement urges citizens to work together to organize community-based news production .

Presidential campaigns


Ralph Nader's name was invoked in 1972 as a desirable and worthy presidential candidate, but this "Draft Nader" effort had no ballot line to offer, nor did Nader authorize his name to appear on any ballot until 1982.


Although Nader took no interest in running in 1980, he expressed the opinion that a victory by Ronald Reagan would be preferable to the reelection of Jimmy Carter. As he saw it, "Reagan is going to breed the biggest resurgence in nonpartisan citizen activism in history." This opinion may have foreshadowed his position in later elections, particularly in 2000.


Nader launched a third party around issues of citizen empowerment and consumer rights. He stated that the Democratic Party had become "so bankrupt, it doesn't matter if it wins any elections." He suggested a serious third party could address needs such as campaign-finance reform, worker and whistle-blower rights, government-sanctioned watchdog groups to oversee banks and insurance agencies, and class-action lawsuit reforms.


Nader waged a minor write-in campaign in the 1992 New Hampshire primary and received about 6,300 votes.


Nader was drafted as a candidate for President of the United States on the Green Party ticket during the 1996 presidential election. He was not formally nominated by the Green Party USA, which was, at the time, the largest national Green group; instead he was nominated independently by various state Green parties (in some areas, he appeared on the ballot as an independent). However, many activists in the Green Party USA worked actively to campaign for Nader that year. Nader qualified for ballot status in relatively few states, garnering less than 1% of the vote, though the effort did make significant organizational gains for the party. He refused to raise or spend more than $5,000 on his campaign, presumably to avoid meeting the threshold for Federal Elections Commission reporting requirements; the unofficial Draft Nader committee could (and did) spend more than that, but was legally prevented from coordinating in any way with Nader himself.


Nader ran again in 2000 as the candidate of the Green Party of the United States, which had been formed in the wake of his 1996 campaign. According to a former Green Party activist, Nader and his associates, not the Green Party, were the driving force behind the 2000 campaign. That year, he received 2.74% of the popular vote, missing the 5% needed to qualify the Green Party for federally distributed public funding in the next election, the claimed purpose of his Presidential bid.

Nader campaigned against the pervasiveness of corporate power and spoke on the need for campaign finance reform, environmental justice, universal healthcare, affordable housing, free education through college, workers' rights, legalization of commercial hemp, and a shift in taxes to place the burden more heavily on corporations than on the middle and lower classes. He opposed pollution credits and giveaways of publicly owned assets.

Nader's vice presidential running mate was Winona LaDuke, an environmental activist, and member of the Ojibwe tribe of Minnesota.

Accusations of Vote-Splitting

The extremely close race between the two major presidential candidates, Al Gore and George W. Bush, helped to create some additional controversy around the Nader campaign. Many Democrats claimed that because Nader had no realistic chance of winning in the close election, that those who supported Nader should instead have voted for Gore and that a victory for Gore would have been preferable to a victory for George W. Bush. Many prominent liberal politicians, activists, and celebrities made this argument to voters in swing states, sometimes using the catch phrase "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush". The Republican Leadership Council ran pro-Nader ads in a few states in a likely effort to split the "left" vote. Nader and many of his supporters responded with the catch phrase "a vote for Gore is a vote for Bush", claiming that while Gore was perhaps marginally preferable to Bush, the differences between the two were not great enough to merit support of Gore.

The "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush" slogan, which supporters of Gore urged against Nader, was an instance of the so-called spoiler effect phenomenon, in an election where more than two candidates are running and it is feared that the presence of more than one candidate with relatively similar views will split the vote that is cast "against" another candidate, who becomes the beneficiary of the split vote. Such fears often plague third-party or independent candidates, especially those perceived as likely to draw most of their support from demographics who would otherwise support one or the other candidate. Thus, Gore supporters tried to persuade voters who preferred Nader to vote for Gore in order to prevent the election of the "greater evil" (referring to Bush). Some Democrats attempted to convert those who supported Nader by claiming that doing so made them "dupes" of the Republican party.

Ironically, Greens in some states turned on supporters of David McReynolds, the Socialist Party USA candidate in the 2000 race, and used similar tactics to try to push McReynolds supporters to "get in line" and support Nader . (Despite what their supporters argued, there was no evidence that Nader and McReynolds had anything other than a 'friendly-foe' respect for each other.)


When challenged with complaints that he was taking away votes from Al Gore, Nader replied that the voters who preferred Nader did not "belong" to Gore, and that it would be more accurate to say that Gore was trying to take away votes from Nader, by scaring voters into voting for the lesser of two evils. When Nader argued that he would hold the Democrats' "feet to the fire," he was suggesting that he wanted to move the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction.

However, at other moments Nader said that, because the Democratic Party had slid so low and had become so beholden to corporate power in his opinion, the Democratic Party deserved to go the way of the Whigs. Running as the Green Party's nominee in 2000, Nader indicated that he would support Green candidates who ran against even the most progressive Democrats, such as Paul Wellstone and Russ Feingold.

Indeed, as some commentators pointed out, Nader's strategy seemed better suited to hurting Gore than helping himself. Instead of campaigning in states where the outcome seemed clear, Nader campaigned primarily in tight races, where he was less likely to gain votes - states where liberals would be more reluctant to vote for him, for fear of enabling a Bush victory. Pat Buchanan, on the other hand, focused his efforts on states where the outcome seemed clear.

Nader's rejection of the vote-pairing strategy, which would have increased Green Party support and help Al Gore win the election, is further analysis supporting the assertion that Nader's campaign intended to hurt Gore more than help himself. Anticipating the type of close election that in fact happened in Florida in 2000, some voters attempted to minimize the spoiler problem by engaging in strategic "vote-pairing," or so-called Nader trading, in which Nader-inclined voters in swing states would agree to vote for Gore in exchange for Gore-inclined voters in safe Bush states to vote for Nader. This strategic idea, which was championed by law professor Jamin Raskin, was based on the observation that, under the electoral college system, individual votes for a losing presidential candidate within a given state (or individual "surplus" votes for the winner within a state) are necessarily wasted. Even though "Nader trading" had the theoretical potential to allow Al Gore to win the election and at the same time to earn the Green Party the 5% that would lead to a possible award of FEC party convention funding, Nader himself declined to endorse the "vote-trading" idea in 2000, explaining that they were running in every state and that they were encouraging voters to vote according to conscience.


As it turned out, Nader's vote total exceeded Bush's margin over Gore in Florida (as did those of several other third party candidates) and in New Hampshire, leading some to speculate as to whether or not Nader and/or his supporters "cost Gore the Presidency."

Ralph Nader speaks out against the presidential debates at Washington University in St. Louis which he was excluded from on Oct 17, 2000.
Ralph Nader speaks out against the presidential debates at Washington University in St. Louis which he was excluded from on Oct 17, 2000.

Nader's vote total in Florida was 97,488 where the final certified vote count had a margin of 537. A full manual recount of all uncounted ballots in Florida would have given Gore the victory regardless of Nader, but was not undertaken until long after the election results were certified, nor did Gore request it. In New Hampshire, Nader garnered 22,198 votes, and the margin was less than this. Many analysts believed that a substantial number of Nader supporters would more likely have chosen Gore over Bush. If this is true, and enough of those supporters would have still shown up to the polls, and enough of those would have still have voted for President, and enough of those would have not voted for another Green Party or other third Party candidate, then Nader may have been a factor in the outcome of the election. Nader, both in his book Crashing the Party, and on his website, stated: "In the year 2000, exit polls reported that 25% of my voters would have voted for Bush, 38% would have voted for Gore and the rest would not have voted at all." Nader also noted that in Florida 250,000 self-identified Democrats voted for Bush -- over twice the number of Florida voters he attracted.

Nader supporters countered that, instead of blaming Nader, Gore should accept responsibility because his own failure to win his home state of Tennessee was a "but-for cause" of Gore's loss. Nader supporters also maintained that the Democrats should handily have won the election against Bush (whom Nader referred to during the campaign as "a giant corporation masquerading as a human being"), with a better campaign or with a better candidate than Gore, who they say made a series of blunders throughout the campaign, including in his debates against George W. Bush. Nader supporters said that Gore's campaign themes were largely a creature of the "centrist" and corporate-supported Democratic Leadership Council, which had once been chaired by then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. The U.S. presidential election, 2000 was hounded by the Florida situation, and some Nader supporters suggested that the Democrats should blame the Supreme Court for calling a halt to the Florida recount, thereby effectively declaring Bush the winner.

During a press conference in support of Peter Camejo for California Governor, pranksters hit Nader in the face with a pie.


Ralph Nader (right) with Dennis Kucinich.
Ralph Nader (right) with Dennis Kucinich.

Nader announced on December 24, 2003 that he would not run for president in 2004 on the Green Party ticket; however, he did not rule out running as an independent. On February 22, 2004, Nader announced on NBC's Meet the Press that he would indeed run for president as an independent, saying, "There's too much power and wealth in too few hands." Because of the controversies over vote-splitting in 2000, many Democrats urged Nader to abandon his candidacy. The Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe argued that Nader had a "distinguished career, fighting for working families" and he (McAuliffe) "would hate to see part of his legacy being that he got us eight years of George Bush."

On May 19, 2004, Nader met with John Kerry in Washington D.C. for a private session, concerning Nader's factor in the 2004 election. Nader refused to withdraw from the race, citing specifically the importance to him of the removal of troops from Iraq. The meeting itself ended in disagreement. On the same day, two Democratic leaning groups, the National Progress Fund and the Democracy Action Team, were formed. They both sought to reduce the effect of Nader upon Democratic voters that might be persuaded to vote for him. The following day, the Democracy Action Team's Stop Nader campaign announced they would air TV commercials in key battleground states.

On June 21, 2004, Nader announced that Peter Camejo, a former two-time gubernatorial candidate of the California Green Party, would be his vice presidential running mate. Shortly thereafter, Nader announced that he would accept (although he was not actively seeking) the endorsement, but not nomination, of the Greens as their presidential candidate. Later in June, however, the national convention of the Green Party of the United States rejected Nader, whose supporters were voting for "nobody" (a.k.a. Ralph Nader), as a candidate in favour of David Cobb, an attorney and Green Party activist. Nader's failure to take the Green Party's nomination meant that he could not take advantage of the Green Party's ballot access in 22 states, and that he would have to achieve ballot access there independently. Despite having chosen to run outside of the Green Party, Nader professed outrage at the Green Party's "strange" choice, terming the party a "cabal."

Ballot access

The Nader campaign failed to gain a spot on a number of state ballots, and faced legal challenges to its efforts in a number of states. In some cases, state officials found large numbers of submitted voter petitions invalid. While Nader campaign officials blamed Democratic legal challenges for their difficulties in getting Nader's name on the ballot, the difficulties faced by petition-gatherers were also a significant factor - there were far fewer people in 2004 eager to sign petitions for Ralph Nader, and petition-gatherers complained that they often received verbal abuse from people they solicited. One of Nader's California organizers observed that "paid signature gatherers did not work for more than a week or two. They all quit. They said it was too abusive."

On April 5, 2004, Nader failed in an attempt to get on the Oregon ballot. "Unwritten rules" disqualified over 700 valid voter signatures, all of which had already been verified by county elections officers, who themselves signed and dated every sheet with an affidavit of authenticity (often with a county seal as well). This subtraction left Nader 218 short of the 15,306 needed. He vowed to gather the necessary signatures in a petition drive. Secretary of State Bill Bradbury disqualified many of his signatures as fraudulent; the Marion County Circuit Court ruled that this action was unconstitutional as the criteria for Bradbury's disqualifications were based upon "unwritten rules" not found in electoral code, but the state Supreme Court ultimately reversed this ruling. Nader appealed this decision to the US Supreme Court, but a decision did not arrive before the 2004 election.

Nader failed to gain a place on the Massachusetts ballot, though his efforts to do so faced no Democratic legal challenges (Kerry's ability to win his home state was never in doubt). Nader fell some 1500 signatures short of the state's 10,000 signature requirement, and his campaign blasted the state's electoral requirements as arcane.

Nader also failed to gather the requisite 153,035 signatures to place on the California ballot. The campaign submitted an estimated 83,000 signatures. The Nader campaign briefly flirted with the idea of convincing the California Green Party to nominate Nader instead of David Cobb. This proved infeasible, however.

On August 19, 2004, the Illinois State Board of Elections ruled that Nader lacked enough valid signatures to qualify for access on the state ballot. Nader appealed the ruling, claiming that Illinois's requirement of 25,000 valid signatures was an onerous burden on third-party candidates, and that the petition deadline was too early in the year. This suit was rejected by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly, who found that "Illinois' petition deadline and signature requirements . . . did not impose a severe burden on persons like Nader seeking to pursue an independent presidential candidacy." The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this decision on September 22, 2004. The court, headed by Judge Richard Posner pointedly noted that Nader could have filed his suit in February, just after declaring his candidacy, and contended that, given Illinois's population of 12 million, a signature requirement of 25,000 was not onerous.

On September 18, 2004, the Florida Supreme Court ordered that Nader be included on the 2004 ballot in Florida as the Reform Party candidate. The court rejected the arguments that the Reform Party did not meet the requirements of the Florida election code for access to the ballot — that the party must be a "national party" and that it must have nominated its candidate in a " national convention" — and therefore Nader should have attempted to file as an independent candidate. Specifically, the court ruled that the term "national party" must be interpreted as broadly as possible. The Reform Party has a ballot line in only some U.S. states.

Nader faced an uphill battle to achieve ballot access in Pennsylvania. Although his campaign claimed to have turned in over 50,000 signatures by the August deadline, the Democratic Party launched legal challenges. A series of Commonwealth Court decisions in the fall of 2004 came to a final conclusion on September 2, 2004. On that day, the state's highest Court ruled that Nader could not appear on Pennsylvania's ballot as an Independent candidate, as he was seeking the Reform Party's nomination elsewhere.. When the Nader campaign moved to block the examination of its signatures, Pennsylvania Judge James Garner Collins rejected it, declaring that the campaign's plea "tortured the law." Pennsylvania brought the Nader campaign another black eye: Nader was sued by a lawyer representing homeless people in the state who claimed that they had been hired to gather signatures, but not paid for their efforts.

Nader also fell short of gaining the 3,711 signatures necessary to appear on the ballot in Hawaii. More than half of the 7,000 signatures submitted by the campaign were determined to be invalid or incomplete by state officials.

In the general election, Nader appeared on the ballot in thirty-four states and the District of Columbia, notably fewer than his Libertarian counterpart, Michael Badnarik. Ballot access ultimately became one of the most significant issues of the Nader campaign; in his concession speech, Nader characterized ballot access as a "civil liberties issue" and noted that Democratic attempts to challenge his ballot access were rejected in the "overwhelming majority" of state courts.

Effect on major-party candidates

The expectation among many analysts was that Nader's candidacy would benefit Bush by taking more votes from Kerry than from Bush. A Republican organization in Michigan worked to gather petition signatures to place Nader on the Michigan ballot after Democratic Party lawyers defeated Nader's effort to appear on the Michigan ballot as the Reform Party's nominee.

In Arizona, according to an article by Max Blumenthal that appeared in The American Prospect and on AlterNet, a company called Voters Outreach of America, headed by a former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party, Nathan Sproul, had been involved in gathering Nader signatures Mr. Blumenthal's article was based this on interviews with petition-gatherers in Arizona, notably Michael Arno and Derek Lee. Arno, co-owner of a Republican consulting firm, told Blumenthal that he had declined repeated requests by Nader to petition for him, referring Nader instead to Jenny Breslyn, who was simultaneously gathering petitions for Protect America Now - a petition to restrict the availability of public benefits to undocumented immigrants. Lee had heard from several peers that petition-gatherers were simultaneously seeking signatures for Nader and signatures for the anti-immigrant initiative. News of the seeming collusion of Nader and right-wing anti-immigrant advocates incensed many Democratic Party activists .

Democratic Party groups urging voters to worry about the so-called " spoiler effect", such as "Up for Victory", were formed specifically to dissuade people from voting for Nader and to knock him off the ballot in as many states as possible. These groups, as well as some journalists, pointed to FEC filings showing that the Nader campaign had accepted campaign contributions from several individual donors who were also contributing to Bush's campaign, including a donation from one individual who had helped to fund televised advertisements by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that attacked Kerry's military service record in the Vietnam War and Kerry's subsequent activity in the 1970s as a leader of the antiwar group Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Nader's campaign countered that John Kerry had received far more money in 2004 from individual Republican donors than Nader had, and that Nader was in fact not accepting organized Republican help.

In Florida and several other states, Nader's ballot access came because of his nomination by the Reform Party. The Reform Party nominee in 2000 had been conservative Pat Buchanan; some anti-Nader Democrats took this as evidence that Nader was being helped by supporters of Bush, but many conservatives had left the Reform Party after Buchanan's poor showing in 2000.

A group of Nader's supporters from 2000 endorsed Vote to Stop Bush, a statement urging voters in swing states to vote for Kerry, in order to prevent a second term for President George W. Bush. Even Nader's running mate in 1996 and 2000, Winona LaDuke, endorsed Kerry, as did filmmaker Michael Moore, who had championed Nader in the 2000 campaign. Another approach was taken by (the now offline) "RalphPlease.org", which gathered conditional contributions, pledges to donate to Public Citizen if Nader would withdraw from the race. Nader responded by complaining that he had not been invited to the premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11 and by calling Moore fat.

The Nader campaign contended that the donations it received were given by "people who agree with him on the issues and want him to get his message out to the public." Nader also responded to such claims by pointing out that Democratic opponent John Kerry received $10.7 million dollars from donors who also contributed to Bush or to some other Republican candidate - nearly 100 times that of the $111,700 Nader received.

Electoral System Change

A significant number of progressives criticized Mr. Nader for trying to change the electoral system through an impractical presidential campaign, pointing out that independent or third-party presidential candidates are highly unlikely to win an election under the current system. Supporters of Ralph Nader often countered that an alternative presidential bid can be extremely valuable (for example, by raising important issues and enhancing an otherwise money-dominated and inane political dialogue), regardless of the ultimate number of votes the candidate receives.

Some Democrats, including Howard Dean, argued that Nader should not run for president but should instead concentrate on promoting fairer ballot access laws, campaign finance reform, and alternative voting methods. Nader's supporters thought that such pleas were insincere and off the mark. For several decades, Nader has been a leading advocate of fairer ballot access, campaign finance reform, and more representative election systems. Nader's first published law review article, "Do Third Parties Have A Chance?" (co-authored with Theodore Jacobs and published in the Harvard Law Record, October 9, 1958) was on ballot access reform, and Nader has founded several important organizations (including Public Citizen) dedicated to election law reform. Nader has also been one of the champions of including the so-called "NOTA" (none of the above) option on election ballots, to increase voter choice; a 1994 "In the Public Interest" piece by Nader laid out the case for NOTA.

Democrats respond that aside from writing some articles, and the campaign finance reform work of "Public Citizen", Nader is in a position to commit his extensive personal wealth and status among independent and minor party supporters behind the major election law reform interest groups such as Fair Vote and Ballot Access News, or even use a state's Initiative & Refrendum process to push for fairer ballot access laws, Instant Runoff Voting or proportional representation. Democrats argue that Nader's success with consumer advocacy, versus election law reform suggests that Nader is only tenuously interested in such reforms and prefers running vanity campaigns.


Nader received many fewer votes than he had in 2000, dropping from about 2.9 million votes (2.74% of the popular vote) to 405,623 (about 0.35%) Nader's vote total placed him only slightly more than 63,000 votes ahead of the fourth-place candidate, Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party, who appeared on 49 ballots. Fears that Nader would play a "spoiler" role that would harm the Democrats proved unfounded — unlike 2000, Kerry's margins of loss in states won by Bush were all substantially larger than the percentage of votes gathered by Nader.

Personal finances

In 1970, General Motors paid an out-of-court settlement of $425,000 to settle an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit filed after it was revealed that GM hired private investigators in an attempt to expose any embarrassing details of his personal life, particularly his sex life. The investigation turned up nothing.

Ralph Nader has lived an exceptionally frugal and simple life. He has never been married or had children. He has never owned a car, and has lived for decades in a cheap boarding house. He's been known to eat at cheap restaurants, buy his clothes at thrift shops, and even wear the same clothes for many years. Despite being a lifelong bachelor, it's believed that he has very rarely dated.

According to the mandatory financial disclosure report that he filed with the Federal Election Commission in 2000, he then owned more than $3 million worth of stocks and mutual fund shares; his single largest holding was more than $1 million worth of stock in Cisco Systems, Inc. Nader's total net worth is between $4.1 million and $5 million. The largest recipients of Nader's donations have ranged anywhere from Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS) to other non-profit organizations.

Unofficial appearances

Ralph Nader was portrayed in an episode of The Simpsons that aired after the 2000 presidential election in which he is portrayed as a clandestine member of the Springfield Republican Party and is thanked for all the fine work he has done for the Republicans. He appeared on Da Ali G Show, where interviewer Ali G persuaded him to try out his rapping skills. He is portrayed in Tom Robbin's 1980 novel Still Life with Woodpecker as Princess Leigh-Cheri's love interest.



Nader has authored, co-authored and edited many books. Among these are:

  • Unsafe at Any Speed
  • Action for a Change (with Donald Ross, Brett English, and Joseph Highland)
  • Whistle-Blowing (with Peter J. Petkas and Kate Blackwell)
  • Corporate Power in America (with Mark Green)
  • You and Your Pension (with Kate Blackwell)
  • The Consumer and Corporate Accountability
  • In Pursuit of Justice
  • Corporate Power in America
  • Ralph Nader Congress Project
  • Ralph Nader Presents: A Citizen's Guide to Lobbying
  • Verdicts on Lawyers
  • Who's Poisoning America (with Ronald Brownstein and John Richard)
  • The Big Boys (with William Taylor)
  • Nader, Ralph. The Good Fight: Declare Your Independency and Close the Democracy Gap. Paperback ed. Harper Collins Pub., 2004.
  • Nader, Ralph. Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender. Paperback ed. St. Martin's Pr., 2002.
  • Nader, Ralph. Cutting Corporate Welfare. Paperback ed. Open Media, 2000.
  • Nader, Ralph, and Wesley J. Smith. No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Pervertion of Justice in America. Hardcover ed. Random House Pub. Group, 1996.
  • Nader, Ralph, and Wesley J. Smith. Collision Course: the Truth About Airline Safety. 1st ed. McGraw-Hill Co., 1993.
  • Nader, Ralph, and Clarence Ditlow. Lemon Book: Auto Rights. 3rd ed. Asphodel Pr., 1990.
  • Nader, Ralph, and Wesley J. Smith. Winning the Insurance Game: the Complete Consumer's Guide to Saving Money. Hardcover ed. Knightsbridge Pub., 1990.
  • Nader, Ralph, and John Abbotts. Menace of Atomic Energy. Paperback ed. Norton, W.W. & Co., Inc., 1979.
  • Ralph Nader, Joel Seligman, and Mark Green. Taming the Giant Corporation. Paperback ed. Norton, W. W. & Co., Inc., 1977.
  • Canada Firsts (with Nadia Milleron and Duff Conacher)
  • The Frugal Shopper (with Wesley Smith)
  • Getting the Best from Your Doctor (with Wesley Smith)
  • Nader on Australia
  • The Ralph Nader Reader
  • " It Happened in the Kitchen: Recipes for Food and Thought"
  • " Why Women Pay More" (with Frances Cerra Whittelsley)
  • " Children First! A Parent's Guide to Fighting Corporate Predators"


  • The "I" Word - Boston Globe - May 31, 2005 - Nader calls for the impeachment of President George W. Bush (with Kevin Zeese)
  • Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee on Alito Nomination - Jan. 10, 2006
  • Bush to Israel: 'Take your time destroying Lebanon' - The Arab American News - Aug. 2006

Selected speeches and interviews

  • Chowkwanyun, Merlin. " The Prescient Candidate Reflects: An Interview with Ralph Nader", Counterpunch, 2004- 12-16.

Video links

  • Ralph Nader video appearances on C-SPAN in RealVideo - rec. April 9, 2000 to present - Retrieved June 6, 2005
  • A Call to Civic Engagement, online video of speech given on August 18th 2005 in Montreal.
  • Interview with online video from Achievement.org
  • Ralph Nader speaks at the Reform Party Convention, 2004 - Provided by C-SPAN in RealVideo format.
  • On Corporate & Government Responsibility Talk at UC Berkeley April 26, 2002
  • Nader on Iraq CBC Broadcast 3 days into the invasion of Iraq.
  • Nader on Ethics of Public Participation at Centre for Ethics, Emory College
Retrieved from " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Nader"