What can you learn today from America's youth?

Mike Gravel is a former Democratic United States Senator from Alaska, who served two terms from 1969 to 1981, and a former candidate in the 2008 presidential election.  He is chiefly known for his efforts in ending the draft following the Vietnam War and for putting the Pentagon Papers into the public record in 1971.

Born in 1930 to immigrant parents in Massachusetts, Gravel enlisted in the Army in 1951 and served in West Germany. A self-stated dyslexic, Gravel was educated at Columbia University%u2019s School of General Studies in New York, where he drove a taxi to support himself. Gravel's first steps into politics were in the Alaska House of Representatives, before he won his party's nomination to the U.S. Senate in 1968. During the 1980s, after Gravel lost his senate seat, he worked as a real estate developer, consultant and stockbroker.

Gravel is a strong supporter of direct democracy, and specifically, the National Initiative, which refers to proposals to allow for ballot initiatives at the federal level.

  • Transcript


Question: What can you learn today from America's youth?

Mike Gravel: The phenomenon of the Internet. The phenomenon . . . If I told you that one of my IT persons was a 17 year old kid working independent – he’s out a distance – and whenever I got a problem with my computer I pick up the telephone and I call him. “I can’t do this,” and he walks me through it. And I’ve got a lot of problems because I’ve got a PC that I’ve been using for a long time, and I just moved to the Apple which I find out is a better instrument. And so I’m stuck in between the two. So what can the young people . . . We’ve gotta be mature about this. Young people can be sort of sophomoric. You know they’ve got all the answers. No well what we have to realize is that it’s their world. And whenever I speak to the young people, hey I’m long gone. It’s your world. It’s presently getting screwed up. If you don’t do something about it, you’re gonna live with it. You know maybe 10, 15 years I’m gone. It’s your world. Pay attention. Reason. Reason it out. Don’t just take the given information by American media that this is really what’s going on in the world. American media can be very good, but it can be very lousy, and very biased, and sold out. If our political system is sold out by the pound, American media is sold out in the same way. And that’s the difficulty we have. And that’s . . . and the only solution that I know to that problem is to empower the American people; to bring them into the picture with real power. And the only real power that counts is making laws. And I don’t buy this language that people gotta take back America. People have never had America. We got pushed out of the picture from the get-go in the hot summer in 1787 in Pennsylvania.


Recorded on: 10/23/07