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Mike Gravel

Legendary former Senator, Mike Gravel, joins us to talk about his ideas for direct democracy, explains the concept of “Republican Socialism,” and tells us about his role in the Pentagon Papers.

Mike Gravel represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to ’81. During the Vietnam War era, he made forceful attempts to end the draft. He is probably most well known for reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, thereby lending them official legitimacy. A staunch advocate of direct democracy, he left the Democratic Party in 2008 to run on the Libertarian Party ticket in order to introduce these ideas into the national debate. A policy platform was developed by him and two young colleg-aged men, who urged him to run in the Democratic Primary in 2020. He has since dropped out, but the platform can be found here.

“He’s (Trump) told everybody that anything the Democrats are doing is socialist. Well, fine. We can accept that. But what we want to do is add the fact that anything the Republicans are doing is equally socialist. The only difference between them is: with Democratic Socialism, the people benefit. With Republican Socialism, the people get screwed.” Former Senator Mike Gravel

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EP 283 TRANSCRIPT(Right click to download)


  1. Linda says:

    Thank you Ralph and Mike!! we need to hear truth!

  2. Bruce K, says:

    I am sorry to see Mike Gravel did not make it into the debates. I can understand why the Democrats did not take him seriously, or rather faced with some 20+ candidates did not feel that adding someone who was basically a figurehead for some young people behind the scenes would make sense or make the debate any more informative or manageable.

    Americans certainly need to hear what Gravel has to say. So many great ideas, and old ideas bought back and rejuvenated, like democracy itself. I’d have to disagree with Ralph that this is some terrible conspiracy with the Democratic Party on the order of what happened to Bernie Sanders in 2016, but I do think this 20+ field of candidates is the Demcratic Parties way to trying to push the vote counting to include Super-Delegates by splitting the votes, so I wish the majority of these wanna-bes would drop out so the party can have a real discussion and debate instead of the circus we see today.

    I would have liked to know what Gravel thought of the Libertarian Party these days. I used to take them seriously until I realized the lesser role for government plays right into the hands of the powerful, such as the Koch Brothers, etc until now I see the Libertarians as a pre-Fascist party.

    Another thing that for some reason this segment made me think of is that, if corporations are people in view of the current Supreme Court and the Republican Party and the oligarchs of the US economy, why couldn’t we create a fictional Presidential Corporation containing the major frontrunners in the Democratic Party, have then incorporate and them run for President as a group? They could structure the roles and rules of the corporation in any way they wanted, but the idea of having a lone nut in the White House would be banished because the other co-Presidents could act if that became a problem.

    The idea could either be taken seriously and go to some pretty interesting places, or it could show the absurdity of making corporations people.

  3. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Sorry Bernie, Mike, and Ralph, but you’re tragically misinformed on what socialism is. Allow a socialist to educate you on the subject. Socialism is the movement towards or description of a post-capitalist society. This means projects to get rid of capitalism. For instance, attempting to build an economy of worker cooperatives or outlawing the right of private property that makes top-down, exploitative capitalist businesses possible in the first place. You see, the problem with capitalism lies fundamentally in how production is arranged (private dictatorships), and so moving beyond capitalism is moving towards a different kind of production arrangement. The two parties of capitalism, the Republicans and Democrats, are anything but socialist, either in aspirations or policy. Your confusion perhaps begins with the term “social democracy”, which is used in much of Europe to refer to Keynesian government programs like the New Deal or social security, which are fundamentally policies to save capitalism from its inherent tendency toward periodic crisis. Sounds a bit like “democratic socialism”, but the two terms mean different things. The term “democratic socialism” is itself kind of silly, because socialism is fundamentally about expanding democracy in the first place. The term instead refers to a political strategy of attempting to get to socialism through electoral politics. Some socialists think participation in elections is completely pointless and their time is better spent organizing unions or communities.

    Gravel’s direct democracy proposal is more radical than he probably even realizes, because given the opportunity and unobstructed by the corrupting and diluting influence of electoral politics, the people could very well vote to abolish capitalism.

    Hope this was helpful!

    P.S. Instant runoff voting is one of the worst of all ranked voting methods and is totally insufficient for getting third parties elected. Educate yourself on its problems and picking a better voting method, such as Approval or Score voting, please!

  4. David Faubion says:

    Senator Mike Gravel’s early stance against the US war on Vietnam suggested his grasp of most or all other political matters. Now he reveals to us his unwavering clarity, cogency, memory and brilliance. He’s got my vote.

    Kudos Ralph Nader Radio for giving Mike the hour. We will do well to hear from this real deal Senator periodically.

  5. Leandro Seoane says:

    Mike should have supported MARIANNE2020.COM instead of backing up Bernie. She asked us, HER FOLLOWERS TO pitch in some money so he would make it to the second debate. Not nice.on his part.

  6. John Earl says:

    I haven’t been able to find Gravel article on Republican Socialism that wes mentioned on the show.

  7. R.Lyon says:

    Mike made it clear, he wants Tulsi to be president. His 2 choices, Tulsi and Bernie. Tulsi needs her poll. This endorsement is very important, for her campaign. Hope you do the right thing.

  8. Don Harris says:

    Thank you for providing Gravel’s idea for a citizen legislature.

    I don’t think it is a good idea, but it was good to hear about because I could not consider it if I didn’t know about it.

    If Gravel is correct citizens on their own can pass a Constitutional amendment to make this the law of the land.

    Then why can’t we do this for other things that need amendments?

    This idea was 25 years in the making and is unlikely to become law in the next 25 years.

    He was correct in saying it would take the backing of a zillionaire to get it going and passed- to counter all the billionaires working against it.

    Meanwhile, you continue to not inform citizens about One Demand, an approach to get the big money out of politics that can be implemented right now and begin being effective in the 2020 elections because it does not require legislation. All it requires is citizens using the basic tool of democracy- our votes and 10% of presidential election voters raising over 1 billion dollars with 100 dollar contributions made directly to small donor candidates.

    No zillionaires, billionalres or millionaires needed.

    If you had informed citizens about this idea back in 2015 when I contacted you it could have begun to be effective in the 2016 elections, gained momentum in 2018 and completely changed the dynamics of 2020 elections already.

    The question is do you want to keep having the same discussions on solving the problem of big money in our political process (which makes all legislation designed to benefit the big money interests) through future legislation in 2022, 2024 and forever or will you inform citizens about an idea (as you said you would on Washington Journal in the fall of 2018) that can be implemented now that could achieve major progress on the goal of government by and for the people in 2020, 2022 and 2024?

  9. Randy says:

    A brilliant idea. The duopoly will fight this oooh and nail (and claim they love democracy). Of course, the Courts will fight it too as they love business as usual. The sleeping giant (majority) must rise to make this so. Will we?

  10. TOO BAD he did NOT get into the debates….HE “might” have made a difference!
    SOLUTION; I’M PROPOSING MANDATORY VOTING. The voting period will be for a 5-7 days; a week, with Monday being a Federal holiday. (That gives every person an extra day to VOTE!) That should be everyone time to MANDATORY vote! I do NOT care about the TV networks getting the FIRST results! (Who gives a shit about NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, Fox “Blanking” news or MSNBC?) Everyone NOT voting will NOT be able to register their car or get a drivers license OR??????? I’LL MAKE IT EASY; there will be a write-in line AND a none of the above line. All voting machines will have MANDATORY PAPER TRAIL. In fact, I may ELIMINATE voting machines! Unfortunately, the voter will have to have identification with photo which I will make SUPER EASY! Gerrymandering will NOT be in effect! Based on population counties will get 1, 2 or 3 representatives.
    SOLUTION #2; 3. MANDATORY VOTING per Ralph Nader article “Universal Voting Dissolves the Obstacles Facing Voters”. Per Nader; It’s called universal voting. In Australia and a few other nations, voting is a duty, OVERWHELMINGLY accepted by the public. That makes obstruction of the voters a serious crime. GET A NEW AMENDMENT. Here’s an idea; MANDATED VOTING! Everyone Should Vote! There is a PENALTY IF you do NOT Vote. My idea is for Mandatory Voting for ALL people. Make it like this for every office; put ALL the names of each political party plus add two lines for a write-in vote AND none of the above. The penalties are; you will not be able to register your vehicle or apply for a drivers license or some significant fine….NOT $25.00…something that hurts people so they want to vote. My point is you should vote AND hold onto your voter confirmation in order to re-new your drivers license AND to re-register your vehicle! The point is to get people to vote, man! It is a duty, especially considering the amount of people who don’t vote like ME who did NOT vote in 2018.
    The voting “period” should be a holiday with MANDATORY EARLY VOTING on the weekends AND by mail. The voting period should be a week. Blank the networks……..the networks are “The Public Airwaves”, right? “We the People” own the Public Blanking Airwaves, right?
    Draft Notes; 1. RE-INSTATE THE DRAFT
    To make it fair for everyone, because you, in the government, are still going to be carrying out your crusades probably in; Iran, Venezuela, Pakistan, Central America, North Korea, excluding the wars you’re already in; Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Drugs, Health Care and who knows what else. Even, if by some miraculous re-positioning of govern-mind you actually try a new approach, then these “volunteers” will be prepared to build and serve more humanitarian interests. Either way, forcing people to choose between eating and serving is not quite evenhanded. Let’s divide the service responsibly. Regardless of these next statements it is not fair to put the burden upon those who have fewer choices. Right?
    Thought, proposal, maybe a threat? Re-installing the draft; because it is TOTALLY UNFAIR NOW! War-mongering members of congress have NO REAL stake in ANY conflict. Any time a pre-emptive invasion or war starts ALL members of congress, even those who did NOT vote for pre-emptive invasion or war, MUST AUTOMATICALLY BE FORCED TO ADD THEIR CHILDREN, ages 16-45, to the military’s ranks plus there is NO WAY their kids can escape to some bullshit posting. They MUST BE sent to the front lines, NOT as support personnel but AS FRONT LINE TROOPS. Maybe it will affect their viewpoint(s)! But I doubt it! Proof; in many ways America’s next major conflict, the 1991 Gulf War, was a political reaction to the Vietnam experience. Conscription had been replaced by a professional army composed of de facto mercenaries recruited from the underclass.
    Overkill supplanted the war for hearts and minds that defined the late-Vietnam counterinsurgency strategy. And reporters who had enjoyed near total freedom in the 1960s were frozen out. Only a few trusted journos were allowed to travel with American forces in Kuwait and Iraq. They relied on the Pentagon to transmit their stories back home; one wire service reporter got back home to find that the military had blocked every single account he had filed.

    • Bruce K. says:

      >> Gerrymandering will NOT be in effect! Based on population counties will get 1, 2 or 3 representatives.

      I must have missed that, can you point me to more detail on that. I am not sure if there is a way to counteract gerrymandering or no matter what they do if there is not some kind of bias.