Splice Today, an online magazine with about the same readership as Independent Political Report, recently interviewed former Democratic Senator, Democratic presidential candidate, and Libertarian presidential candidate Mike Gravel about his failed bid for the presidency and other pressing matters (such as Sarah Palin porn and the video “Rock“). Gravel talked about his national initiative proposal, a potential Obama presidency, and his opinion of fellow Alaskan Sarah Palin. Here are two excerpts, and you can read the whole thing here:
ST: Can you tell us about the National Initiative? How would that work exactly?
MG: It’s legislation that I’ve written to directly involve the people in the affairs of government. I was informed by similar initiative procedures in 24 states, all enacted at the turn of the 20th century, before World War I, and also by similar initiative procedures in Switzerland and Uruguay at the local level. It took me 10 years to come up with the National Initiative. It’s made up of a Constitutional Amendment and a Federal statute and sets up legislative procedures that are copied from the Congress and based on my experiences as Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives and as a United States Senator. It equips the people to be able to enact law and to participate in their own self-governance in partnership with their elected officials at all levels of government. An Electoral Trust is set up to oversee the initiatives. The people need a procedure to be able to function as a government and that procedure is the National Initiative.
It’s interesting: the Swiss were the first to develop the Federal system back in the middle ages. We copied their system here in American with our Constitution. And then the Swiss copied us with their 1848 Constitution by bringing the people in. But, you see, they never really brought the people in in an actionable fashion until the turn of the 20th century. And at the same time we were doing it here, and so was Uruguay. So you’ve got Switzerland, Uruguay, and the United States all working in procedures for direct initiative within a generation of each other. All I’ve done is build on that. We all stand on what those before us have done.
ST: Have you received much support for the National Initiative?
MG: Well, I ran for president because I wanted to make the American people aware of the National Initiative and it worked, it brought a lot of attention to it. But you’ve got to appreciate that the body politic, that is, the representatives in public office all over the country, they don’t understand the National Initiative and when they do understand it they don’t support it. They don’t believe that the citizens who they themselves represent are knowledgeable enough. There’s no reason for this. They’re looking at it wrong. We’re talking about a majority decision made by a national constituency of 130 million voters. The constituency of most states is roughly several million. But the constituency of the congress is 535. The constituency of the Supreme Court is nine. If you agree that democracy works then you agree that the larger the constituency the better the decision you’ll get on any issue. So it’s that simple.
The representatives who understand the National Initiative don’t support it because they know it takes away some of their power. It’s the same with the media. They know it takes away some of their power too, because the media is the intermediary between the representative and the citizen. And since we don’t have a lot of money to go out and advertise it we have a tough battle. Especially since this would require the majority of the people who voted in the last presidential election to support what we’re doing.
But let’s keep in mind the definition of freedom by Cicero, which is, freedom is the participation in power. If you don’t participate in power you’re not free. Well, power is the exercise of lawmaking. We don’t make the laws, the our elected representatives make the laws, so all we can do is obey them or go to jail…
MG: The first thing I would do is sign an executive order to end torture. Obama has to do that. It’s really the bellwether as to whether or not we’re going to turn the moral corner. We’ve got to signal to the world that we’re going to change morally. Now maybe Obama will do that but I don’t know that he will. But if I were president, then in my first 100 days I would not only sign that executive order but I would blow up the prison at Guantanamo, I would give Guantanamo back to Cuba, I would recognize Cuba, I would recognize Iran. I would blow up Abu Ghraib and I would withdraw our troops from Iraq. Then I would start to withdraw our troops from other countries around the world and I would pull out of NATO. That’s just for starters.
ST: You gave a lecture in France recently?
MG: Yeah, I spoke at the university in Grenoble. This is a university of 50,000 students—probably the largest university in France. It’s unbelievably beautiful. It was advertised that day that I’d be speaking in English so I assumed that I’d be speaking to 50-100 students. I walked into the room, this huge auditorium, and it was completely full of people—standing room early. They were sitting in the stairwell, the aisles, standing in the hallway, sitting in front of me on the floor. It was unbelievable. I was so taken aback when I walked into the auditorium that I threw my hands in the air and they started cheering. I spoke about American imperialism, about NATO, the National Initiative, how we’ve got to empower the people because representative government is broken. And it sold like hot cakes.
ST: What are you working on now?
MG: I’m trying to organize a TV program called Global Perspectives. There’s no American network to do it but I’ve got to find investors. It would be cutting edge political analysis. It wouldn’t be a news program but analysis of issues like the war, nuclear proliferation, and so on. It would be very international in scope and very controversial and so therefore I think very interesting.