Mike Gravel Joins The Libertarian Partyby Doug Mataconis
Former United States Senator, and Democratic Candidate for President, Mike Gravel has, apparently, joined the Libertarian Party:
I just got off the phone with Libertarian Party Executive Director Shane Cory and he confirms the following information: Former US Senator and Alaska House Speaker Mike Gravel has joined the Libertarian Party. Cory says he’ll provide more in a media release to be expected over the next few hours.
And here’s the official LP Press Release:
Washington, D.C. – Mike Gravel, a former Alaskan Senator and Democratic candidate for president, has joined the Libertarian Party.
“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,” says Gravel. “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.”
Gravel served in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1981. Most recently, Gravel was a Democratic presidential candidate, though forced out of national debates by Democratic Party leadership and the media. Gravel officially became a member of the Libertarian Party today.
Gravel is the most recent former member of Congress to switch to the Libertarian Party. In 2006, former Republican Congressman Bob Barr joined the Libertarian Party.
“It is a distinct honor to have another former member of Congress within the Libertarian Party,” says Barr. “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.”
While this move is interesting, I agree with the guys at Freedom Democrats that there needs to be some skepticism about what Gravel is actually up to here:
Not surprisingly, Gravel’s campaign team has already announced Gravel’s intentions to possibly seek both the LP and Green Party nominations, to run a “fusion” candidacy. As I obliquely alluded to in my original post, skepticism is warranted in digesting the possible motives of Gravel in making this move. Is this legitimately about Gravel identifying more with the Libertarians now or is this more about Gravel smelling some of that Ron Paul fundraising cash.
A fusion between the LP and the Greens ? How would that even be possible without one or both parties abandoning some of their core principles. The Green Party is unlikely to welcome economic liberty, and the Libertarians, unless they want to sell their soul, would seem to be unwilling to accept an agenda that says, among other stuff, things like this:
Consumers have the right to adequate enforcement of the federal and state consumer protection laws. Health and safety are of paramount importance, so we oppose lax or inappropriate regulatory actions.
a. Consumers should have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives and protect their interests, beyond simply voting on election day.
b. We support the creation of consumer advocacy agencies in order to protect the interests of consumers against corporate lobbyists who have too often successfully argued before regulatory agencies against consumer rights. We would require legal monopolies and regulated industries (including electric, gas, water, and telephone utilities) to set up statewide consumer action groups to act on behalf of and advocate for consumer interests.
c. We call for better information for consumers about the products they buy, and where and how they are made. We endorse truth in advertising, including the clear definition of words like “recycled” and “natural.”
d. We defend the rights of individuals to participate in class action lawsuits against manufacturers of unsafe products. We call for restrictions on secrecy agreements that may prevent lawsuits by not revealing damaging information.
e. We support laws to protect “whistle blowers.”
We have a special responsibility to the health and well-being of the young. Yet we see the federal safety net being removed and replaced with limited and potentially harsh state welfare programs. How will social services be adequately provided if local resources are already stretched thin?
We believe our community priorities must first protect the young and helpless. Yet how will state legislatures and agencies, under pressure from more powerful interests, react? We believe local decision-making is important, but we realize, as we learned during the civil rights era, that strict federal standards must guide state actions in providing basic protections. As the richest nation in history, we should not condemn millions of children to a life of poverty, while corporate welfare is increased to historic highs.
The Green Party opposes the privatization of Social Security. It is critical that the public protections of Social Security are not privatized and subjected to increased risk. The bottom 20% of American senior citizens get roughly 80% of their income from Social Security, and without Social Security, nearly 70% of black elderly and 60% of Latino elderly households would be in poverty.
If that’s the kind of future Gravel would bring to the Libertarian Party, he would, effectively, destroy it as an advocate for individual liberty.
Update: The New York Times has picked up the story and reports that Gravel intends to run for the LP’s Presidential Nomination:
Fed up with being excluded from the debates and otherwise marginalized, former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska announced today that he will seek the Libertarian Party nomination for president.
That’s right, we said Mike Gravel, who had been running as a Democrat – not Representative Ron Paul, who has run on the Libertarian ticket in the past, but recently submitted his name to appear on the ballot in the remaining Republican primary contests.
Skyler McKinley, a Gravel spokesman, said that Mr. Gravel would try to pursue the Libertarian nomination at the party’s convention, which will be held in Denver on May 22-26.
Whether or not some of our delegates will accept Mike Gravel with some of his positions, that has yet to be seen,” said Andrew Davis, a spokesman for the Libertarian National Committee, adding that Mr. Gravel’s advocacy of universal health care, paid for with a national retail sales tax, could turn off some Libertarians.
Frankly, the fact that the LP is even welcoming this crypto-socialist into the party is strong evidence that it no longer deserves to be taken seriously.