Is the American political system broken?
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.
Question: Is the American political system broken?
Mike Gravel: Not only broken, it’s not just the American system. It’s the whole system of representative government. What we do on election day in this democracy and others, we give our power away to politicians who from a human nature point of view can do no better than to first put their interests first above the public interests. And so as a result of that, the public interest falls behind. And so it is only when they solve that. Of course one of the difficulties is we are brought up from childhood thinking that we control government by voting on election day. Well you don’t control government that way and I won’t go into the details of it, but you just don’t. The only way you can control government is with the power of government. The central power of government in lawmaking. So if the American people are ever, and the peoples of other countries are ever to get control of their government, they have to become lawmakers. We have that in Switzerland. And in Switzerland one of the greatest democracies . . . well the only democracy . . . the only democracy that has a partnership between their people and their elected officials . . . and they have a very, very peaceful successful government.
Recorded on: 10/23/07
The election system allows public interest to fall behind.
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