Monday, April 7, 2008

Thinking about the presidential candidate who has done the least harm, I could easily name one without hesitating at all.
But you might not hear too much about him on TV.
I wonder why, and so might you.
(And he's the only one talking about impeachment.)

Then this morning, I was surprised to see this in my local newspaper:

Ralph Nader has been a life-saver many times over


In response to Bill Dunn’s irresponsible op-ed piece March 10, “‘Ralph Quixote’ tilts again at presidential windmill,” and the accompanying cartoon “Irrelevant at any speed,” it needs to be pointed out Winsted native Ralph Nader ’s accomplishments as a lawyer, researcher, writer, consumer advocate and founder of more than 100 citizen-action nonprofit groups has resulted in legislation that is relevant, landmark and lifesaving.
Mr. Nader was named by Atlantic magazine one of the 100 most influential figures in U.S. history, one of only four living people to be so honored. He has worked to create the framework of laws, regulatory agencies and federal standards that not only have improved the quality of life for all Americans, including Mr. Dunn, but actually saved lives, starting with the legislation he initiated making seat belts standard equipment in cars. The auto industry had neglected to take this step for decades. Ralph Nader has been instrumental in passing such monumental legislation as the Freedom of Information Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Water Drinking Act, Clean Air Act, Wholesome Meat Act, Wholesome Poultry Production Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, the law establishing the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Products Safety Act, Whistleblower Protection Act, Mine Health and Safety Act, National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act. His largest group, Public Citizen, now under the direction of Joan Claybrook, has more than 100,000 members. The Public Interest Research Groups that Mr. Nader helped establish on college campuses in 23 states have published hundreds of ground-breaking reports, lobbied for laws in state legislatures, and called the media’s attention to environmental and energy problems.
Mr. Nader has been instrumental in legislation concerning the safety of medical devices, mobile-home safety and food labels. Who knew? Probably not Mr. Dunn. Ralph Nader has improved the quality of Bill Dunn’s life more than Bill Dunn, and most of us, realize. One wonders if Mr. Dunn has anything against clean air, clean water, wholesome meat, safe cars, food labels, no smoking on airplanes, freedom of information and protection of whistle blowers. In an ideal world, businesses wouldn’t dump toxins into rivers, make unsafe products and sacrifice the health of consumers and employees to raise profits.
In an ideal world, the auto industry would design safer cars voluntarily. In an ideal world, legislators would have initiated laws concerning all of the above to promote the rights, safety and concerns of their constituents.
But they didn’t.
Instead, it took a private citizen, Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader studied at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs at Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He has traveled through Latin America, Africa and Europe, where he witnessed great social struggles and interviewed world leaders as a freelance journalist. He also speaks Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
How refreshing it would be to have a president who could speak to heads of state in their own languages. Mr. Dunn’s schoolyard name-calling reminds me of a couple of old sayings. If you can label someone, you don’t have to deal with him. And if you can tell a lie long enough, people will believe it. Ralph Nader ’s intellect, integrity, knowledge, experience, wisdom and dedication to this country and to social justice worldwide make him eminently qualified to be president.

Anita Bologna is a writer who lives in Waterbury.
Just this issue alone, a living wage, might bring those people who don't vote into the picture, and at least scare that 1% that's done so well lately...

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