Campaigns/Elections

Several Minutes with Mike Gravel

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I interviewed Mike Gravel almost by accident, as he was leaving the table where authors signed copies of their books and making arrangements with staff.

"You've got enough," Gravel said, eyeing copies of Citzen Power. "I don't need to bring a box of them with me tomorrow. Good."

Gravel was walking my way, into the hall, so I reintroduced myself as the reason reporter he talked to in New Hampshire. He was overjoyed, and started praising the feature on the libertarian vote that Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch wrote for Campaigns and Elections. "I read that article," Gravel said. "I got to the end, and I read that last line: 'Let the people decide.' You're using my slogan!"

Gravel took me over to a corner and quieted down. "I don't say this in public, but I'm more libertarian than Ron Paul. I took that article over to him this last week—we met for the first time. And the article's got that section with the top libertarian issues. Gambling, choice, immigration. Ron looks at the list and points at each of the issues. 'I'm not for that, I'm not for that, I'm not for that.' He was against half of the things on the list! And I'm for all of those things."

People often ask Gravel about Ron Paul: Their support overlaps for what I can only assume is because both of them fit as awkwardly in the current political rubric as Abbie Hoffman or a clown on fire. "A lot of people have said the two of us should debate," Gravel said. "I don't want some political hack debate, but we could have a real interesting, intellectual debate if we had the right moderator. Bill Moyers would be a good guy to do that."

I asked Gravel about the reports he was going Green and endorsing a Green Party candidate for president. Half of that is true. "I'm still running," he said. "I just endorsed Jesse Johnson to give him a leg up over Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader." But hadn't Nader introduced Gravel at the 2007 TBA Conference? "Oh, yeah. He talked for 30 minutes and I got 15 minutes." Was Gravel raw that Nader started running even though the candidate he endorsed was still in the race? "Ralph Nader is Ralph Nader," Gravel shrugged. "I don't think he's going to be elected president, but he'd be a good advisor to a president."

The obvious question: Since Gravel considers himself a libertarian, would he run for the LP nomination? Yes. "I don't have a big staff, so we haven't done that yet, but I want to reach out to them. If Ron Paul could raise all that money with his libertarian message, you know, I think I could raise a lot of money."

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  1. The question is, however, is Gravel more Cosmo than Ron Paul?

  2. Support for markets significantly more free than they currently are is kind of a libertarian acid test to me. I’m not sure if Gravel passes.

  3. Question: Would Gravel’s presidency reflect his minimalist ad campaign? Could we count on Gravel to make decisions whether to throw stones, stare at fire, throw stones at fire?

  4. Also, would Gravel’s presidency be called “Untitled Minimalist White on White”

  5. At least, unlike Ron Paul, Gravel doesn’t have a history of pandering to racists to sweep under the rug. That and he doesn’t look like his makeup person is a mortician. I say, go for it Mike.

  6. Jacob: I think you hit the nail on the head. And if that is the “acid test”, then Gravel fails.

  7. Gravel has unfortunate leftist leanings, and Paul has unfortunate rightward leanings. Can we get the transporter from The Fly (Cronenberg) to mix them into the perfect superlibertarian candidate?

    Alternatively, could we get the transporter from Star Trek to do a modified The Enemy Within where instead of breaking one person into good and evil parts, we mix all the good parts from both into one superlibertarian being, and at the same time create his archenemy with all the bad parts?

  8. “At least, unlike Ron Paul, Gravel doesn’t have a history of pandering to racists to sweep under the rug.”

    Oops…Check out this website, whose headline is, “Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel participated in Holocaust denial conference”:

    http://adamholland.blogspot.com/2007/08/democratic-presidential-candidate-mike.html

  9. I think you need to take LSD to fully appreciate Mike Gravel’s commercials.

  10. at the same time create his archenemy with all the bad parts?

    Mike Gravel in a pant-suit?

    *ducks*

  11. As a colorophobic I simply love the “clown on fire” bit.

    Oh yeah, on topic: Don’t think we’ll ever have a “perfect” libertarian candidate since libertarians can’t even agree on what that might mean. And that is as it should be. While it is true that the other parties have a sort of check list of things they are supposed to mouth support for, there’s no “perfect” Democrat nor “perfect” Republican either.

    Libertarians should focus on which candidate will do the most to move the country in the right direction of more liberty and less government.

  12. Oh dear so many nits and only one picker.

    “I got to the end, and I read that last line: ‘Let the people decide.’ You’re using my slogan!”
    I clicked the link and downloaded the .pdf article. Very nice, so glad to see libertarians reaching out to a wider audience. However, nowhere does it say “Let the people decide”. Even paraphrasing, it could only be interpreted as “The future belongs to us”.

    I agree with madmikefisk and others, Gravel can’t decipher the decoder ring.

    “I don’t want some political hack debate, but we could have a real interesting, intellectual debate if we had the right moderator. Bill Moyers would be a good guy to do that.”
    Constructing a sentence where the phrase “good guy” points to the proper noun “Bill Moyers” should be a felony.

  13. “Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel participated in Holocaust denial conference”:

    Jesus Christ, what is it with these primitive old fucks you libertarians keep taking up?

  14. Question: Would Gravel’s presidency reflect his minimalist ad campaign? Could we count on Gravel to make decisions whether to throw stones, stare at fire, throw stones at fire?

    Just think of how his State of the Union speeches would be. I might actually watch one for a change.

  15. Just think of how his State of the Union speeches would be. I might actually watch one for a change.

    I can see it now

    *Gravel enters stage, a hush falls over the crowd*
    *Gravel stands at podium, with a stare of impending doom, audience shuffles uncomfortably*
    *Camera pans around, a single cough is audible*
    *Camera pans back to Gravel, who raises both hands, scowl dinimishing*
    *Audience feels wave of positive energy, camera pans around as a sense of calm settles over the quite scene*
    *Gravel puts his hands together, smiles, turns and leaves*
    *Crowd breaks into roaring applause*
    *Networks then cut to 2 hours straight commercial break*

  16. Warren,
    I think he was referring to this:

    But the Long Tail future of politics
    just as surely belongs to the president and party that figures out the secret to success is giving away power by letting the voter decide more of what matters.

    (Bolding by me)
    So he didn’t remember exactly. It’s close.

  17. The real question is, what does his priest say?

  18. highnumber,
    Mmmm ok I can see that. Even so, you have to take it out of context and contort it to make it come out “let the people decide”. LTPD sounds to me more like put it to a vote and let the people decide to nationalize health care.

  19. Can one be both a libertarian and a Marxist?

    If so, then I guess Gravel could be a libertarian.

  20. I didn’t really pay attention to Gravel, but he could have meant “let the people, rather than the party bosses, decide.”
    If only his ads weren’t so damn hypnotic, maybe I would have caught his message.

  21. I guess it’s true that crazy people don’t know they’re crazy.

  22. Marxist or not, he’s for ending both the War on Drugs and, I take it from the above, the War on Gambling. Even if a plank in his platform said that all bourgeois reactionaries would be shot upon his ascension, I still might take him over the current choices.

  23. we mix all the good parts from both into one superlibertarian being, and at the same time create his archenemy with all the bad parts?

    We seem to have the latter (Pat Buchanan, perhaps?) without the former.

  24. Hey, I’m just glad that guy Obama is running. C’mon, he’s like one of the greatest golfers in history!

  25. I’m sorry, but Mike Gravel is not “more libertarian” than Ron Paul. Two issues have Ron Paul out of the libertarian loop, immigration policy and abortion. However, free markets and capitalism > socialism.

    Gambling, prostitution, war on drug, etc. ? Paul might have said, “I don’t believe in that [personally]”, but his legislative record and rhetoric show he doesn’t want government involved.

    And I’d like to ask Paul how the meeting went. I’d like to ask him why the hell Gravel even came by.

  26. GRAVEL IS NOT A LIBERTARIAN!!!!!!

    People on the collevtivist left enjoy cozying up to names of liberty. They do this because they want to believe they have anything to do with liberty. Like liberal before it, leftist want to use the libertarian term so they won’t see themselves as authoritarian.

    BUT THEY ARE NOT LIBERTARIANS!!!!!!

  27. Maybe the LP could just nominate Nader. Makes about as much sense as Gravel.

  28. Gravel supports a single payer universal health care system. Please check Wikipedia and stop calling him libertarian.

  29. Even though I’m a major RP supporter, we shouldn’t be tearing down anyone sympathetic to our cause. We need all of the support we can get. I have a lot of respect for Mike Gravel. I just read his book Citizen Power. He seems to support a mix of libertarian and socialist views. It’s pretty unique. Some people were saying that he wants universal health care but I don’t think that’s exactly true. He wants medicaid and medicare to expire, for one. I won’t go into the details of his plan because that would be one long comment, but he seems to have a vast amount of knowledge when it comes to politics. He knows every vote every politician did and why. He knows every problem this country has inside and out. Even though I don’t agree with him on everything, I still think that’s pretty remarkable. However, I don’t think he should run as a libertarian. Ron Paul supporters are married to Ron Paul and are not going to vote libertarian party or give very much money to the any LP candidate.

  30. And the article’s got that section with the top libertarian issues. Gambling, choice, immigration. Ron looks at the list and points at each of the issues. ‘I’m not for that, I’m not for that, I’m not for that.’ He was against half of the things on the list! And I’m for all of those things.”

    Assuming “choice” means abortion, two of those three issues are ones that “real” libertarians disagree on across the cosmo-paleo divide. So we know that Gravel is more cosmotarian than Paul, but that’s all.

  31. OK, Weigel. Enough is enough. We get that you have a huge man-crush on Ron Paul and fantasize about making soup with Paul and Dondero in a steamy hot tub.

    Just give it a rest for a while.

  32. “Gravel supports a single payer universal health care system. Please check Wikipedia and stop calling him libertarian”

    Please stop using Wiki and read or listen to Gravel’s own words on health care!

  33. Shannon wrote: Ron Paul supporters are married to Ron Paul and are not going to vote libertarian party or give very much money to the any LP candidate.

    I’m a Ron Paul supporter who will be voting Libertarian and giving money to the LP candidate. I’m married to my wife, not to Ron Paul.

  34. Mike, Ron, and Ralph should all run on the same ticket: “Geriatrics for Justice”, or maybe “We smell like Ben-Gay”.

  35. “People on the collevtivist left enjoy cozying up to names of liberty. They do this because they want to believe they have anything to do with liberty. Like liberal before it, leftist want to use the libertarian term so they won’t see themselves as authoritarian.”

    I believe you’re conflating 2 very different lefts. Gravel’s not some collectivist in the tradition of Teddy, Woodrow, FDR, Truman, LBJ, and Clinton. Just as most of the libertarian right never noticed that McGovern was more Capitalistic than Nixon (whose price-controls and elimination of the gold standard, as well as his prolonging of Vietnam, caused the economic crisis of the 70s) and therefore caused the defeat of the best presidential nominee of the last 100 years (since the Democrats ran Alton Parker against Teddy), most of the right fails to recognize that Gravel is more Capitalistic than any other Democrat or Republican to run this year with the exception of Paul. By comparison, the libertarian right has jumped all over the campaigns of statists like Goldwater, Reagan, and Bush who pay lip service to free markets while actually opposing them. Kneejerk attacks of the left are counterproductive, especially since libertarianism is at its core a leftist movement and the modern left is actually a confused middle of the road movement that seeks the goals of libertarianism, but with the means of conservatism.

  36. I think Ron Paul’s reactions to the issues Gravel mention are being twisted. Ron has often said that he is not for things like gambling, but he ardently supports one’s right to gamble. Having the freedom to gamble and choosing to gamble are two different things. The same applies to drug use.

  37. Okay, everyone who believes that Gravel is some kind of libertarian and not just simply someone who plans on using the Libertarian Party as his launch vehicle read carefully the last line of the interview where he says that
    (and I’m parapharasing here) that Ron Paul got a lot of money from libertarians and I think I can too. Nuff Said.

  38. Gravel said, “If Ron Paul could raise all that money with his libertarian message, you know, I think I could raise a lot of money.”

    You know folks, like so many others,I just do not think Gravel gets it.

    Ron Paul had so many of the right answers on so many issues. Congressman Gravel has far fewer right answers and he likes taxes.

    Gravel also likes socialized medicine. He thinks it can be paid for with a “portion” of the Fair Tax. He fails to understand that even now our entitlements promised for medicare and prescription drugs can never be met, that we are bankrupt. There is likely no tax big enough to do what he wants, unless we all work for the purpose of giving all our money to government.

    He thinks he can raise a lot of money due to his Libetarian leaning, but Ron Paul garnered support from nearly every “group.” Gravel seems to overlook the fact that Ron Paul considers himself a Republican. He left the Lib. party after one year, did he not? He does not claim to be a Libertarian. The MSM claims that.

    Con. Gravel has some good points among his issues, but I wonder if he has the grasp on the monetary system ( a big issue with RP followers) and the economy.

    Just being Libertarian is not going to guarantee the kind of donations Ron Paul was receiving. It was all about the total message with Dr. Paul. People loved his message.

  39. To David “Hitman” Wiegel and Mike Gravel.
    Didnt the website http://www.gambling911.com endorse and support Ron Paul ?
    Yes Ron Paul does not gamble, but hes also against the Govt. regulating it too. Just like hes against prostitution. But hes against the govt. getting involved in it. Just like he dosent “get high” but he wants the govt. to get out of regulating drugs and so on.
    Ugh!
    And he isnt against immigration by the way. HE’S AGAINST “ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION”.He also thinks that immigrnts are made into a scapegoat. It is because of the welfare state and the excessive spending that hes now against “ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION”.
    By the way how about (correcting wrongs) in articles or leaving foot notes.

  40. I’m a huge Mike Gravel supporter. I have been hoping he’d go third party way before now; HOWEVER I never expected this 3rd party. After doing a bunch of research I can say that I’m in no way, shape or form a Libertarian. I agree with much of what they have to say “IN PRINCIPLE” but in practice I think that the corporations would really show us the meaning of Fascism. The states would have no defense. I support Gravel because A. he’s honest and B. www dot ni4d dot us. He’s not arrogant enough to even pretend that he has all the answers but has total faith that WE do. If We the People were empowered to actively participate in our government without influence from special interests, corporations or money of any type I can just imagine how many disenfranchised people would start participating. My democratic friends are giving me a little flack for being a Gravel supporter now that he’s a Libertarian and all I can say is “At least he didn’t endorse McCain”

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