Ralph Nader is one of America's most renowned consumer advocate and environmentalist, and was born on February 27, 1934, in Winsted, Connecticut to Nathra and Rose Nader (who were Lebanese immigrants). His father ran a bakery and a restaurant. His parents played an important role in his intellectual development. From his childhood, he and his family members involved themselves in family seminars, where everyone sat around the table for discussion over topics such as law and justice. This activity helped him in gaining deep understanding of sensitive issues right from his childhood.
Ralph completed his schooling from Gilbert School, in 1951. For further studies, he entered Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs at Princeton University, from where he completed graduation magna cum laude in 1955, majoring in Government and Economics. After this, he enrolled his name in the Harvard Law School. During the course of his graduation, he was appointed as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He completed his graduation in law in 1958, after which he started legal practice.
Ralph worked as a lawyer at Harvard, Connecticut for a couple of years during the early phase of his career. Later, he moved to Washington and started working as a consumer advocate. He worked with/under Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in the Department of Labor, and volunteered as an adviser to a Senate subcommittee (which was studying automobile safety). His article on automobile safety The Safe Car You Can't Buy (Nation, 1959) made the government consider traffic and safety issues seriously. In 1965, Ralph published his first book Unsafe At Any Speed (which was also a best selling book), in which he openly discussed the safety issues of the automobiles and gave many examples of the faulty methods, which were being used by General Motors in manufacturing the automobiles. Because of him, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed in 1966 by the Congress.
Ralph also had started speaking against the people who were using corporate power for their own purpose. Because of his comments and stance, he became a public hero when General Motors tried to harass him via a spy, and later apologized for the same publicly. He also played an important role in the approval of the Wholesome Meat Act in 1967, Freedom of Information Act, Environmental Protection Agency, and many such things.
As a Consumer Advocate, Ralph stepped forward to speak against the pollution, industrial hazards, harmful products, and negligence of consumer safety laws. He even formed a group of young students, lawyers, and researchers, which was called "Nader's Raiders". Thousands of people joined his Modern Consumer Movement, and they stood together for workers' safety, pollution, etc. Ralph played an important role in establishing the 'Occupational Safety and Health Administration' and the 'Consumer Product Safety Commission'.
Ralph always tried to expose the irresponsible behavior of the big organizations in preventing pollution, their negligence of the various safety measures, etc., and the potential problems which could be caused because of the same. He also pulled the government for its failure in controlling such organizations, and for this, in 1969, he established the 'Center For The Study of Responsive Law'. Ahead in 1971, he established groups, such as 'Public Citizen' and 'US Public Interest Research Group'.
He continued his work for years, and wrote many articles and books, such as Corporate Power in America (published in 1973), Who's Poisoning America? (Published in 1981), Winning The Insurance Game (published in 1990), etc., and became one of America's most renowned public hero. He also worked towards improvement in the laws, which were in the interest of general public. He helped in establishing many groups, which fight against the negligence of corporates and government towards the environment and people safety.
Further in 1996, Ralph fought presidential candidature (from the Green Party), but did not give more emphasis on the campaigns and lost the election. In year 2000 and 2004, Ralph again stood as a candidate for the Presidential seat. Every time he tried little harder, and was able to pull more votes. He gave Bush and Kerry a tough fight in many states in the 2004 elections. Many supporters of Kerry think that because of Nader, Kerry lost most of his votes, which could have helped him in balancing the marginal difference of votes between Kerry and Bush; and Kerry would have won the Presidential Seat.