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Ralph Nader and me

I love Ralph Nader. I always have. I always will.

It was my dad who sparked my interest in consumerism. He watched every penny, and he complained –- loudly –- when he received poor service or bought a defective product.
When I went to Washington State University during the 1960s, I studied consumer economics. I was hooked.

Those were heady times. The Consumer Movement was in an upswing. We had:

  • The passage of motor vehicle safety laws, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the clear air and water acts.
  • The launching of federal regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environment Protection Agency, and Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • The recall of millions of defective motor vehicles.
  • Access to government through the Freedom of Information Act.

Ralph Nader was a dynamic, articulate leader of most of these efforts.

Nader first made headlines in 1965 with his book “Unsafe at Any Speed,” a critical indictment of the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. The book led to congressional hearings and a series of automobile safety laws passed in 1966.

He has built a national network of citizen groups that have had a major impact in areas ranging from tax reform to nuclear energy to health and safety programs.
I’ve seen Ralph Nader speak four times and interviewed him once.

When he came to Washington state last year to talk about his book, “The Seventeen Traditions,” I was lucky enough to have my picture taken with him. The book is about 17 traditions Nader absorbed from his parents, his siblings, and the people in his community, and the lessons they offer for today's society.

Twice, Ralph Nader has run for president and garnered less than 5 percent of the vote. On Feb. 28, he announced his third presidential campaign.

Why is he running? He believes John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama are too closely tied to corporate interests. See

Copyright 2008, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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