As a founder of scores of civic organizations, Nader continues to crusade on an array of issues: universal health care, the minimum wage, tax reform, obesity, and the absence of NO LEFT TURN signs in his neighborhood in downtown Washington. Nearing 80, he recently sat down with Fortune's David A. Kaplan to discuss the long arc of his career. In a series of conversations, Nader reflected on what he called the avarice of "multinational global" corporatism, the bane of technology, and the failure of progressive politics. Animated, wistful, witty, and unrepentant, he talked about Albert Einstein and Ansel Adams, his ownership of more than $1 million of Cisco stock, what drove him to an early interest in cars, why he was at the White House wedding of Richard Nixon's eldest daughter -- and how, no, he's not responsible for Bush's victory in 2000. Edited excerpts:
Fortune: The first car I remember was my mother's Corvair convertible. We always drove with the windows slightly open. You could smell exhaust inside.
Nader: [Laughs.] They were recalled for that finally!
We take safety standards for granted. Your radicalism way back then almost seems quaint now.
Recalls, safety belts -- that's the success. On the other hand, if they ever tried to roll them back, taking them for granted is not the best popular form of resistance. The last 15, 20 years have been very quiet in consumer progress.
On cars or in general?
Almost everything. Consumers have been neglected in insurance, credit, banking, food, energy, housing.
What do you think about Elizabeth Warren?
What's not to like? She's smart and articulate and relentless. She came forward at a time when the financialization of the economy was at a peak, when making money from money was out of control. I don't know how she's going to fit in the Senate -- they can wear you down.
Do you talk to her?
Maybe three times in the last seven months.
You see her as a protégée?
She's a major factor in her own right. Twenty years ago when we were against redlining and going after the banks, she was at Harvard and she came to our attention because she spoke up. Not many law professors speak up.
Would you support her as a presidential candidate?
If she wants to run, she'll certainly get some nice words from me.
Would you support Hillary?
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