2008 Conference Videos: Ralph Nader

Honored by Time magazine as "One of the 100 Most Influential Americans of the Twentieth Century," and recently as "One of the 100 Most Influential Figures in American History," by The Atlantic, consumer advocate and presidential candidate for the Green Party, Ralph Nader, has devoted his life to giving ordinary people the tools they need to defend themselves against corporate negligence and government indifference. With a tireless, selfless dedication, he continues to expose and remedy the dangers that threaten a free and safe society. Recently the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary, An Unreasonable Man, he has also written his introspective book, The Seventeen Traditions about the earliest days of his own life, where he revisits seventeen key traditions he absorbed from his parents, his siblings, and the people in his community, and draws from them inspiring lessons for today's society

Nader's foray into public life began in 1965 when he took on the Goliath of the auto industry with his book, Unsafe at Any Speed, a shocking exposé of the disregard carmakers held for the safety of their customers. The Senate hearing into Nader's accusations and the resulting life-saving motor vehicle safety laws catapulted Nader into the public sphere.

Nader quickly built on the momentum of that success. Working with lawmakers, he was instrumental in creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Laws he helped draft and pass include the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Meat and Poultry Inspection Rules, the Air and Water Pollution Control Laws and the Freedom of Information Act. Working to empower the average American, Nader has formed numerous citizen groups, including the Center for Auto Safety, Public Citizen, the Pension Rights Center, the National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest, and the student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) that operate in over twenty states. In his latest citizen initiative, he is working with alumni classes, including his own at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, to expand their efforts beyond parties and reunions to community projects that systemically advance social justice.

Believing that Republicans and Democrats are so close ideologically he calls them "tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum," Nader organized the Green Party's first presidential campaign in 1996 to challenge the "duopoly" of the two-party system. He received 700,000 votes on a limited campaign budget of $5000 and he ran again in 2000, receiving 2.8 million votes. His goal is to build the foundation of a third political party and a robust progressive political movement that rally around issues rather than empty slogans and figureheads.

Among his best-selling books are Winning the Insurance Game; Why Women Pay More and Getting the Best from Your Doctor. His most recent books are Children First: A Parents Guide to Fighting Corporate Predators; No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America and The Ralph Nader Reader. Nader's most recent bestseller is titled Crashing the Party: How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President. He also writes a weekly column, "In the Public Interest," which runs in newspapers around the US.

Both citizens and corporate audiences listen intently to what Nader has to say. Years after they graduate, college students tell him how his lecture evening changed their lives. His message is simple and compelling: "To go through life as a non-citizen would be to feel that there's nothing you can do, that nobody's listening, that you don't matter. But to be a citizen is to enjoy the deep satisfaction of seeing the prevention of pain, misery and injustice."

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