Being a Public Citizen

I just read the history of Public Citizen, the largest of the many public interest organizations Ralph Nader started, written in celebration of 35 years since its inception in 1971. Click here, then click on “35th anniversary of Public Citizen”, which will open their latest issue of their magazine as a PDF file, and read pages 4 through 8. I don’t know about you, but for me, it was an eyeopener. These people have been speaking truth to power not so much with a vengeance, but with legal finesse, for decades. Many of the consumer safety laws we have taken for granted (and are seeing undone by the current administration) were hard won by the efforts by Public Citizen attorneys.

Who else has been out there organizing legal actions and speaking to elected officials to stand firm against corporate and government abuse of people and the environment for that long?

Well, certainly Common Cause (founded in 1970 by John Gardner). And the American Civil Liberties Union, founded by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver and others in 1920. Amnesty International was launched in 1961 by an article written by British lawyer Peter Benenson about two Portuguese men imprisoned for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom.

While maintaining our awareness of today’s political scene through news websites including and, we need to support those who are out on the barricades, fighting legal battles and promoting better laws in Washington. This is just part of housekeeping.