Ralph Nader (born February 27, 1934) is an American progressive political activist, and five-time candidate for President of the United States, having run as a write-in candidate in the 1992 New Hampshire Democratic primary, as the Green Party nominee in 1996 and 2000, and as an independent candidate in 2004 and 2008. He is also an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government. Nader came to prominence after publishing his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a critique of the safety record of the Chevrolet Corvair automobile. In 1999, an NYU panel of journalists ranked Unsafe at Any Speed 38th among the top 100 pieces of journalism of the 20th century. Life magazine named Ralph Nader one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century. Time magazine named Ralph Nader among the "Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century," saying, "He is the "U.S.'s toughest customer." His biography is listed in the Academy of Achievement, quoting Nader, "A good citizen is not just a person who votes all the time." The Nation ranked Ralph Nader among "The Fifty Most Influential Progressives of the Twentieth Century," saying, "Thanks to Nader, our cars are safer, our air and water are cleaner and our food is healthier." The Atlantic Monthly referred to Nader as one of the hundred most influential Americans in history, stating "He made the cars we drive safer; thirty years later, he made George W. Bush the president." However, A study in 2002 by the Progressive Review found no correlation in pre-election polling numbers for Nader when compared to those for Gore. In other words, most of the changes in pre-election polling reflect movement between Bush and Gore rather than Gore and Nader, and they conclude from this that Nader was not responsible for Gore's loss.
Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut. His parents, Nathra and Rose Nader, were Christian Orthodox immigrants from Lebanon. His family's native language is Arabic, and he has spoken it along with English since childhood. His sister, Laura Nader, is an anthropologist.
His father worked in a textile mill and later owned a bakery and restaurant where he talked politics with his customers. Nader graduated from The Gilbert School in 1951, followed by Princeton University four years later and then Harvard Law School. He served six months on active duty in the United States Army in 1959, then became a lawyer in Hartford, Connecticut. He was a professor of history and government at the University of Hartford from 1961 to 1963. In 1964, Nader moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked for Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan and also advised a United States Senate subcommittee on car safety. Nader has served on the faculty at the American University Washington College of Law.
Ralph Nader has been a frequent contender in U.S. presidential elections, always as an independent candidate or a third party nominee. His activism on behalf of third parties goes back to 1958, when he wrote an article for the Harvard Law Record critiquing U.S. electoral law's systemic discrimination against them.
Ralph Nader's name appeared in the press as a potential candidate for president for the first time in 1971, when he was offered the opportunity to run as the presidential candidate for the New Party, a progressive split-off from the Democratic Party in 1972. Nader received one vote for the vice-presidential nomination at the 1972 Democratic National Convention.
Ralph Nader stood in as a write-in for "none of the above" in both the 1992 New Hampshire Democratic and Republican Primaries and received 3,054 of the 170,333 Democratic votes and 3,258 of the 177,970 Republican votes cast.
He was also a candidate in the 1992 Massachusetts Democratic Primary, where he appeared at the top of the ballot (in some areas, he appeared on the ballot as an independent).
Nader was drafted as a candidate for President of the United States on the Green Party ticket during the 1996 presidential election.
In June 2000 The Association of State Green Parties (ASGP) organized the national nominating convention that took place in Denver, Colorado, at which Greens nominated Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke to be their parties` candidates for President and Vice President. On July 9, the Vermont Progressive Party nominated Nader, giving him ballot access in the state. On August 12, the United Citizens Party of South Carolina chose Ralph Nader as its presidential nominee, giving him a ballot line in the state. In 2000, Nader and his running mate Winona LaDuke received 2,883,105 votes, for 2.74 percent of the popular vote (third place overall), missing the 5 percent needed to qualify the Green Party for federally distributed public funding in the next election, yet qualifying the Greens for ballot status in many states.
Nader announced on December 24, 2003, that he would not seek the Green Party's nomination for president in 2004, but did not rule out running as an independent candidate.
In February 2007, Nader criticized Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton as "a panderer and a flatterer. After some consideration, Nader announced on February 24, 2008, that he would run for President as an independent. His vice-presidential candidate was Matt Gonzalez. Nader received 738,475 votes, for 0.56 percent of the popular vote, earning him a third place position in the overall election results.
Ralph Nader has never married. Karen Croft, a writer who worked for Nader in the late 1970s at the Center for Study of Responsive Law, once asked him if he had ever considered getting married. "He said that at a certain point he had to decide whether to have a family or to have a career, that he couldn't have both," Croft recalled. "That's the kind of person he is. He couldn't have a wife — he's up all night reading the Congressional Record." He has been described as a Christian by The Washington Post, though, as with most aspects of his personal life, Nader does not discuss his religion.