The most neglected candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, appears to have found a new party – and perhaps a route onto the ballots of November voters.
Gravel, a quirky but often contender contender, spiced up the early Democratic debates by suggesting that most of the other candidates scared him with their casual talk of flexing the nation’s nuclear capacity. Those comments earned Gravel a disinvitation to later debates. But he continued to campaign, raising a little bit of money and a lot of important issues, especially with regard to needed reforms in the political process. None of this got him many votes and he won no delegates to Democratic National Convention.
Perhaps, he will do better as a Libertarian.
Gravel, who had seemed to be flirting with the Green Party in March, announced this week that he is quitting the Democrats and registered as a Libertarian.
“I’m joining the Libertarian Party because it is a party that combines a commitment to freedom and peace that can’t be found in the two major parties that control the government and politics of America,” declared Gravel, who was elected to the Senate in 1968 and served two terms before his defeat in a 1980 Democratic primary. “My libertarian views, as well as my strong stance against war, the military industrial complex and American imperialism, seem not to be tolerated by Democratic Party elites who are out of touch with the average American; elites that reject the empowerment of American citizens I offered to the Democratic Party at the beginning of this presidential campaign with the National Initiative for Democracy.”
Does this mean that Gravel will now offer those ideas to the Libertarians as a candidate for the party’s nomination?
In an email to supporters, Gravel wrote: “The fact is, the Democratic Party today is no longer the party of FDR,” he said. “It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism — all of which I find anathema to my views.
“By and large, I have been repeatedly marginalized in both national debates and in media exposure by the Democratic leadership, which works in tandem with the corporate interests that control what we read and hear in the media.
“I look forward to advancing my presidential candidacy within the Libertarian Party, which is considerably closer to my values, my foreign policy views and my domestic views.”
Gravel is not the only former member of Congress who is toying with a bid for the Libertarian line on the presidential ballots of states across the country – the party has already secured more than 25 and is hard at work on securing the rest. Among those welcoming Gravel to the Libertarian camp was former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who left the Republican fold to join the Libertarians in 2006.
Barr, who has been boomed as a possible Libertarian nominee this year, declared that, “Just as Senator Gravel believes Democrats have lost touch with the American public, I too concluded Republicans had lost their core principles, and could no longer associate myself with the GOP. While coming from opposite sides of the aisle, Senator Gravel and I definitely agree on the fundamental need for systemic change in our political system, and that the only way we have of effecting that change is by supporting and working in the Libertarian Party, which is the only political party in America that consistently works in word and deed to maximize individual liberty and minimize government power.”
Does this point to a Gravel-Barr, or perhaps a Barr-Gravel ticket on the Libertarian line in 2008? The party is not without candidates, some of them longtime members, for its presidential and vice presidential nods.
But a ticket made up of a former Democratic senator and a former Republican congressman who find agreement on a number of Constitutional issues would gain attention – and perhaps a decent number of votes – in a fall election season that may see former adherents of both major parties casting about for alternatives.