What can America learn from the rest of the world?
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: What can America learn from the rest of the world?
Mike Gravel: That we were blessed. We’re blessed with a continental size country. We were safe from the wars. And so . . . and what we need to learn is to look at other parts of the world and recognize what they’ve suffered. Particularly the European community. I think it’s to be admired. They’re trying to get their act together after the scourge of the Second World War. They have suffered. They don’t want to go back that way. China has gone through a similar situation; and they, in my mind, are trying to handle the problem and move forward. I become president, I would try to pull together China, Japan, Korea, the Arab world, Russia, Brazil, the EU, pull them in as partners – because this is where the power of the world is economically – and restructure the UN so that it is a representative body for the world. And that way have some ability to deal with problems on a global level. We Americans get so selfish, and “Oh, this is an American problem.” It’s not. Most of the problems are global problems. They’re problems that beset human beings, and they need to be corrected so that we human beings do a better job than we have been doing in terms of human governance.
Recorded on: 10/23/07
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