In the 1960s, 1996 [and 2008] presidential candidate Ralph Nader was able to push through Congress more legislation in the public interest than Bill Clinton [or John McCain or Barack Obama] has been able to push through Congress. As Nader: The People’s Lawyer by Robert Buckhorn recalled in 1972:
“…If Nader contributes little in the way of consumption of goods himself, he has almost single-handedly done more for the consumer…than any clutch of presidents, politicians, or corporation chiefs. Since 1965, he has been responsible…for the passage of…the Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (1966), Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act (1968), Wholesale Meat Act (1967), Radiation Control Act (1968), Wholesale Poultry Products Act (1967), Coal Mine Health and Safety Act (1969), and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (1970).
“…It was Nader who prodded the Food and Drug Administration to force the railroads to stop what Nader termed `their repulsive corporate practice’ of dumping two hundred million pounds of human excrement along railroad tracks every year. It was Nader who gave public exposure to the threats of poisoning from mercury in fish, cadmium in water, and asbestos in ventilation systems.
“It was Nader who charged that non-tobacco elements like glass fibers and rock wool were finding their way into cigars and cigarillos…And it was Nader who warned that the Volkswagen bus was `so unsafe’ it should be permanently barred from the road.”
(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 5/1/96)
Before becoming well-known as a consumer advocate, Nader lived in New Jersey as a Princeton University undergraduate. According to Nader: The People’s Lawyer by Robert Buckhorn:
“…At Princeton, in the era before Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Nader was alarmed over the use of pesticides. When he found that DDT was killing the campus bird population, he was outraged. But his fellow students couldn’t get all that upset over a few dead birds, and Nader found the editor of the campus newspaper wouldn’t even print his letters of protest…
“It was at Princeton that Nader developed his penchant for staying up half the night, something he still does regularly…Nader spends his nights preparing congressional testimony or plowing through trade magazines, letters, and technical reports…His major was Oriental studies and he mastered Chinese, Russian, and Spanish…On summer vacations, he visited Indian reservations in New Mexico, Arizona, and California to collect information for a…paper on the exploitation of the Indian.”
(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 5/15/96)