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Maurice Robert "Mike" Gravel (pronounced "Gravelle," not Gra-vel") is a former Democratic senator from Alaska, who briefly ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2008, then switched his affiliation in March 2008 to unsuccessfully seek the Libertarian Party presidential nomination. He is otherwise best known for his career in the U.S. Senate during the 1970s. His current activities include campagning for a national initative and referendum to be implemented at the federal level in the U.S.
Gravel served as the Senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981. His most notable achievements during this time were filibustering the Vietnam draft twice, appealing a case to the Supreme Court to have the Pentagon Papers read into the record, and opposing nuclear testing in Alaska.
He lost his seat in the 1980 election due largely to an anti-incumbent backlash in Alaska over anger over the Alaska Lands Conservation Act, which passed in 1980. That Gravel had opposed the Act and even tried to filibuster it didn't matter; Gravel had earlier opposed and successfully blocked a weaker "compromise" lands bill, and because of this he got the blame for the stronger bill passing. Alaskans were pissed off enough that he lost the Democratic primary, and the victorious Democrat then lost the general election to Republican Frank Murkowski.
2008 US Presidential Election positions
He was pro-choice on everything, ranging from abortion to gay marriage and pot. While he supports the FairTax initiative, just like Jesus's homeboy, it should be noted that Gravel calls his version the "Progressive FairTax," which includes a full rebate for necessities like food. Sweet! He is in favor of a carbon tax and international action on climate change, as well as a new guest worker program. He also is highly against the war in Iraq, as many Libertarians are.
Gravel is officially a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church, though he is suspected of being a deep-cover atheist, or at least some kind of non-believer. He communicated support for the Rational Response Squad during his 2008 campaign, supports more funding and rigor in science education, and opposes creationism. Gravel also released a video on YouTube called "The Oppressive Nature of Religion" and dodged questions on his belief in religion at debates, saying that our society should be guided by love and not religion.
The Really Good
He supported a constitutional amendment that would allow voter initiatives and referendums on a federal level, similar to the system in Switzerland...but bigger. He supported the impeachment of Curious George, and the United State's second amendment. Finally, his campaign ads were superb works of Bill Viola-esque video art.
Um...He was very very old. Six years older than McCain.
Why the Switch?
Mike Gravel switched to the Libertarian Party because of his opposition to war, not because he was a right-winger. He felt that the DNC was being unfair to him and too friendly to Obama and Clinton (sound familiar?). Gravel also decided that he owed his libertarian friends a favor, and seemed really enthusiastic about the Libertarians- until he found out what freedom the Libertarians were really for: the "free" market. Gravel went back to the Democrats with his tail between his legs after the Convention- a reminder to everyone to steer away from peer pressure.
- RRS on Gravel, Gravel: "Oppressive Nature of Religion, Gravel debate