In 1959, Nader
embarked on his career as a lawyer in Hartford, Conn. and lectured
on history and government at the University of Hartford from 1961
to 1963. Then in 1963, at the age of 29, he left behind the conventional
life of a lawyer to hitchhike to Washington, D.C.
had one suitcase," he told the Web site Crashingtheparty.org.
"I stayed in the YMCA. Walked across a little street and
had a hot dog, my last" -- as he would later go on to push
standards for meat production practices.
Once in D.C.,
Nader went to work for then-Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel
Patrick Moynihan, and also volunteered on a Senate subcommittee
that was studying automobile safety.
consumer advocate first made headlines when he published "Unsafe
at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile"
in November 1965. The book sought to prove how the American automobile
industry sacrificed consumer safety for the sake of style. It
focused on the Corvair model car, which had a track record of
flipping over. "Unsafe at Any Speed" claimed that drivers
were accepting fault for these accidents because there was inadequate
information available about the Corvair's engineering.
expose led to congressional hearings, with General Motors ultimately
admitting fault before a Senate committee. It also led to the
1966 passing of new motor vehicle safety laws, while propelling
32-year-old Nader's career to an entirely new level.
to Nader biographer Charles McCarry, the book "certified
[his] virtue, gave birth to him as a public figure."
point on, Nader and a team of fellow young activists were at the
forefront of consumer protection, getting a wide range of safety
laws passed. The team helped along passage of the Safe Water Drinking
Act and the Freedom of Information Act of 1974, as well as the
Wholesome Meat Act of 1967, which required federal inspections
for meat and poultry and called for standards for slaughterhouses.
his crusading coworkers also saw passage of the Radiation Control
Act and the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act. In 1970, Washington
Post reporter William Greider dubbed the impassioned group, "Nader's
Raiders," a nickname that stuck.
were also central to the opening of the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA), the Consumer Product Safety Administration
and the Environmental Protection Agency. Nader started the Center
for the Study of Responsive Law in 1969 and Public Citizen in
include the Aviation Consumer Action Project, Center for Auto
Safety, Clean Water Action Project, Disability Rights Center,
Pension Rights Center, Freedom of Information Clearinghouse and
the Congressional Accountability Project.
helped build the network of Public Interest Research Groups, student-funded
organizations on college campuses in 23 states. The PIRGs have
published hundreds of groundbreaking consumer reports, focusing
heavily on energy and environmental issues.
from Public Citizen in 1980, and also that year founded the Multinational
Monitor, a magazine devoted to tracking corporate activity and
focusing on the export of hazardous substances, worker health
and safety, labor union issues and the environment.
consumer advocate has written dozens of books on a wide range
of issues. His publications include "The Lemon Book: Auto
Rights" (1990), "Winning the Insurance Game: the Complete
Consumer's Guide to Saving Money" (1990), "The Case
Against Free Trade: GATT, NAFTA, and the Globalization of Corporate
Power" (1993) and "No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and
the Perversion of Justice in America" (1996).
author and activist devoted many years of his career to championing
Americans' consumer rights, until in November 1995, he announced
he would enter California's presidential primary, tipping off
the Green Party's first presidential campaign.
his vice presidential candidate, environmentalist and Indigenous
rights activist Winona LaDuke, received less than 1 percent of
the national vote (approximately 700,000 votes), but they had
spent less than $5,000 on their campaign and were energized by
their ability to mobilize a voter base with so little money.
By Jessica Moore, Online NewsHour