There are no perfect candidates. I compromise. I determine the big issues. Then I select the candidate who can best promote those issues.
War without end is the big issue of our time. This Orwellian "decades-long war" against a shifting laundry list of nations to "rid the world of evil" itself. After 9/11 nearly all the world sympathized with us. We've since thrown away that goodwill, creating new enemies, stretching our military and weakening our security.
Antiwar is pro-defense.
Civil liberties is another big issue. But that ties into the war. James Madison wrote: "If tyranny and oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." And: "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
American voters overwhelmingly oppose our current and (now being planned) future wars. The LP must market itself as the antiwar party. This would be popular with voters and pro-liberty. Pragmatic and principled.
George Phillies, Steve Kubby, and Mary Ruwart are all excellent on peace and civil liberties. I've voted for Phillies and Kubby in the past. I can enthusiastically support any of these three should they be our nominee.
Mike Gravel is equally good on peace and civil liberties. But he surpasses them on media and voter credibility. He is a past US Senator from Alaska. And though he is new to the LP, he is not new to effective peace activism.
To quote Gravel: "In 1971, I waged a one-man, five-month filibuster that forced an end to the Vietnam War draft. I released The Pentagon Papers, the top secret Pentagon study about how three presidential administrations lied to get us into Vietnam. I risked my political career and possible jail, but I decided that if our democracy is to survive, Americans must know what their government is doing. The Supreme Court sided with me."
The media knows and respects this. Other LP candidates can't match such credibility.
Gravel sought the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year. Likely voters (the sort who watch early presidential debates) saw Gravel share the stage with Clinton and Obama. These likely voters already perceive Gravel as a "real" candidate.
Here's what Gravel said during one televised debate: "This is fantasy land. We're talking about ending the war. My God, we're just starting a war right today. There was a vote in the Senate today. Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq Resolution, has authored another resolution, and it is essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran.... I'm ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it ... Obama was not even there to vote."
Ever want to tell off Hillary to her face? Or Obama? Gravel did. Before a national audience. See it on YouTube:
Wayne Allyn Root says that Obama was in his Columbia graduating class, and that, although he never met Obama, this is a good talking point. Yet Root's ancient "Obama connection" pales beside Gravel recently debating Obama face-to-face. Before millions of Americans.
Root endorsed McCain/Lieberman before joining the LP as a pro-war candidate in 2007, then "converted" to non-interventionism. Yet at the California LP convention in February 2008, he said he'd emphasize economic issues. So even if his conversion is sincere, he still won't (unless he's changed again) make antiwar his flagship issue.
The LP should discuss the economy. But the economy ties into the war. Wars have bankrupted nations. Federal borrowing has ballooned. Fat chance of any tax cuts with those looming debt and interest payments.
We cannot discuss the economy without mentioning the war. We cannot attract voters by nominating Basil Fawlty.
Only Bob Barr approaches Gravel in terms of media and voter credibility. Yet while Barr has grown since joining the LP, he's still not "pure enough" for many libertarians. We need a candidate who's both pragmatic and pure.
I regard Gravel as Purist Lite. Not perfect on every issue, but excellent on those that matter. A pragmatic purist.
If you're a delegate to the upcoming LP convetion, and you have your own "dealbreaker" issues, please visit Gravel's campaign at the convention. He may already support your key issues. He's pro-choice on abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-drug war. He wants to abolish the IRS, and the personal and corporate income tax (and replace them with a Fair Tax, i.e., national sales tax).
Pretty damn pure. But not so "extreme" as to "scare away" voters.
Undecided? Please give your token to Gravel, so he may participate in the Saturday debate. Hear what he has to say.
When it comes to ending our wars (thus strengthening our security and economy) and protecting civil liberties, I believe Gravel is as principled and more effective than any of our other candidates.
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Mike Gravel will be my guest on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com at 5 PM New York time Friday June 20.
Go to my blog, www.garybaumgarten.com to click on the link to join in the conversation to listen or talk to Gravel.
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