Ralph Nader’s book ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ struck a powerful chord for consumer rights. Not only was Nader able to raise awareness about automobile safety, but he also won a court battle over the General Motors conglomerate in spite of an attempted smear campaign by the company. Consequently, Nader came to symbolize a man of the people and a potentially strong political candidate. However, that was more than 40 years ago.
Since ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ was published in 1965, Nader has achieved much through his activism. He played a role in passing the Safe Drinking Water Act and forming citizens’ rights groups such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Yet his recent decision to run as an independent candidate for U.S. president for the fifth time runs the risk of undermining his image and damaging his legacy.
The key reason why Nader should not run for president in 2008 is that the vacuum on the left side of the political spectrum, which existed in the 2000 and 2004 U.S. presidential elections, has been largely filled by left-leaning Democrats. For example, in 2004, neither Democratic candidate John Kerry nor Republican incumbent George W. Bush could claim that he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning.
However, in 2008 Barack Obama has proven to be a possible Democratic presidential nominee who can claim just that. While admittedly the 2004 presidential elections also had Democrats Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich running for their party’s nomination