Some people when introduced to direct democracy are sold without persuasion. Others don’t even understand it, which is the case of most politicians.
I had the pleasure of interviewing a 2008 and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Mike Gravel. He started his political career representing Alaska in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1981. During those 12 years, he scored many notable achievements, beginning in his freshman term when, in 1971, he waged a successful one-man filibuster for five months that forced the Nixon Administration to cut a deal ending the draft. Gravel is most prominently known for his release of The Pentagon Papers, the 7,000-page secret official document that revealed the lies and manipulation that misled the country into the Vietnam War. The release of The Pentagon Papers and the ensuing lawsuits precipitated the end of the U.S.’s involvement. After serving in the Senate, Senator Gravel founded the Democracy Foundation, Philadelphia II, and Direct Democracy, three non-profit corporations dedicated to the establishment of a Legislature of the People in the United States. He has also authored and co-authored several books, including “A Political Odyssey” (2008), “Citizen Power” (2008) and “The Failure of Representative Democracy and the Solution” (2019). Now at 90, Gravel carries on his life’s work in the fight for global peace, progressive economics and direct democracy.
Thank you so much for joining us Senator Gravel! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?
I grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, where I got involved in politics on invitation by an elected state representative to help distribute materials in his campaign. The recognition by an important adult was heady for a kid of fifteen. Then on, I worked in liberal campaigns at every opportunity.
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story?
When I was seventeen, I read The Anatomy of Peace by Emery Reeve. It awakened in me an understanding of the global world and the importance of the United Nations.
What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
My involvement in politics conditioned me to believe that we could fundamentally improve things within the context of representative government. I was wrong. Electing good people to office was not near enough.
What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?
I thought that people would jump at the chance to govern themselves by becoming a lawmaker. It didn’t happen.
Did the actual results align with your expectations? Can you explain?
Not at all. History (elites) has a lock on the existing system. What I offer is “out of the box.”
What moment let you know that your book had started a movement? Please share a story.
Some people when introduced to direct democracy are sold without persuasion. Others, don’t even understand it, which is the case of most politicians.
What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?
The same. If they understand it, they publicly endorse it.
What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?
Writing about issues focuses your mind and unclutters your thinking.
Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?
Lots of negatives. Most scholars and pundits refuse to even address it. Mainstream media dismisses it out of hand. But it’s worth it.
Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?
Because books have instigated the changes we have seen in modernity.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?
I am severely dyslexic. I was held back in the third grade. I only started to really read in my senior year of high school. I now presently read 3 to 4 hours a day. I wish I had been a writer rather than a politician.
Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)
It’s not humility, but I don’t feel qualified for such advice.
The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?
A movement to restructure the United Nations into a world federation. This is the only chance we have for world peace and human relations based on love.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
By going to my website — mikegravel.com. My Twitter and Facebook accounts are managed by the teenagers who managed my 2020 presidential campaign.
Thank you so much for these insights. It was a true pleasure to do this with you.
Thank you for the opportunity. Tom Paine’s quote best expresses my views at ninety years old. “the world is my country … to do good is my religion.”