By S.T. Patrick
Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) is a political wanderer. That’s part of his appeal. As one of the underdogs in the 2020 Democratic Party primaries, the chances are slim-to-Ralph Nader that he will be delivering the inaugural address to the nation in January 2021. Gravel hasn’t qualified for the CNN debates at the end of July, and he is not even close to making the even more stringent donors- and polls-qualifications needed for September. The Democratic Party is weeding out the field early, and only the favorite candidates of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) will survive. Gravel will not be one of them, and that’s a shame for anyone who likes to take their time assessing candidates.
Gravel is a different person with a vast background and unique ideas. It’s healthy for the democratic process to include a variety of voices, even when the Democratic Party’s own process shuns them as outsiders and can’t-wins. Andrew Yang is a unique voice; Tulsi Gabbard is a unique voice. In fact, it may be Gabbard who has taken much of Gravel’s contrarian support from him in this race.
Gravel, 88, is an anti-war stalwart whose bulk of support in 2020 comes from an unlikely demographic group: teenagers. This group of supporters leans libertarian. A similar group made up Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s base of support for decades. Gabbard is the only other truly anti-war candidate in the race, thus making Gravel and Gabbard enemies of the statist and pro-war DNC.
Gravel is known for his grandiose point-making gestures, one of which garnered much attention in 1971. Illustrating what “NYMag.com” calls Gravel’s “hostility to interventionism,” the former senator from Alaska stood on the Senate floor and introduced 4,000 pages of what would be called “The Pentagon Papers” into the congressional record before the Supreme Court had lifted the injunction against printing them publicly.
In 2008 Gravel told television program “Democracy Now!” that “90% of what the government does is held secret. It’s a whole cult. And that’s the thing that is really strangling our democracy, that we just don’t know what’s going on.”
While others may exist privately, Gravel is also the only known 9/11 truther in the Democratic race. On Kevin Barrett’s “Truth Jihad Radio” program in 2016, Gravel said: “There’s no question in my mind that 9/11 was an inside job. We killed 58,000 American servicemen in the Vietnam War, and all they did was die in vain. What’s so unusual about killing 3,000 more in order to develop the grist for the mill to empower into infinity the military-industrial complex?”
Though former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid has recently publicized his own interest in UFOs, Gravel has also long been an advocate of disclosure.
“Something is monitoring the planet, and they are monitoring it very cautiously, because we are a very warlike planet,” Gravel said in 2013. “What we’re faced with here is, in areas of the media, and the government, too, an effort to marginalize and ridicule people who have specific knowledge.”
Gravel has in his political pouch a slew of populist stances. He doesn’t believe sanctions against Iran are effective, he supports cutting military spending by 50%, he wants to end all support for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and he opposes the harsh treatment of Palestinians by the Israelis. Gravel does, however, toe a classical libertarian line on immigration, supporting open borders for non-criminals and the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE. He supports some version of the Green New Deal, advocates for universal healthcare, and believes in breaking up large corporations and holding administrators responsible for the actions of the companies.
Gravel’s campaign is being managed by a 17-year-old high-school senior. He has admitted to having no delusions of victory and has committed to dropping out of the race before voting begins. But winning wasn’t his ultimate goal in running.
In a March 20 tweet, Gravel wrote: “I am considering running in the 2020 Democratic primary. The goal will not be to win but to bring a critique of American imperialism to the Democratic debate stage.”
Gravel, in combination with Gabbard, has done that. But how entrenched is the permanent war state when it takes one of the Vietnam War era’s harshest critics to voice some of the most genuine anti-war sentiments of 2019?
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected] He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication available from the AFP Online Store.