by Matthew Hay Brown
Former Sen. Mike Gravel is leaving the Democratic Party – and his quixotic bid for its presidential nomination – for the Libertarian Party.
“It is a party that combines a commitment to freedom and peace that can't be found in the two major parties that control the government and politics of America," Gravel said in a statement released late Tuesday by America’s largest third party. "My libertarian views, as well as my strong stance against war, the military industrial complex and American imperialism, seem not to be tolerated by Democratic Party elites who are out of touch with the average American.”
Gravel will now pursue the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination. He plans to announce the move today.
Despite two terms in the Senate and a head start in the race – he announced his candidacy in April 2006 – Gravel won no delegates in the campaign for the Democratic nomination. Through Dec. 31, he had raised $428,692 – a little more than Ralph Nader, a little less than Keith Russell Judd, an engineer and musician who is listed on the Project Vote Smart web site as having once been a member of the Federation of Superheroes.*
Ready to welcome Gravel was former Republican Rep. Bob Barr, who made the move in 2006.
"It is a distinct honor to have another former member of Congress within the Libertarian Party," Barr said. "Just as Senator Gravel believes Democrats have lost touch with the American public, I too concluded Republicans had lost their core principles, and could no longer associate myself with the GOP. While coming from opposite sides of the aisle, Senator Gravel and I definitely agree on the fundamental need for systemic change in our political system.”
Shane Cory, executive director of the Libertarian Party, said the defection of both Republican and Democratic former members of Congress proved the breadth of its appeal.
“Senator Gravel has a sincere dedication to empowering the American people and eliminating the corrupting influence of the two major parties,” Cory said. “His switch from the Democratic Party, as well as former Congressman Barr’s abandonment of the GOP, shows that the Libertarian Party is truly a big tent organization moving firmly in the direction of Liberty.”
In an e-mail this morning to supporters, Gravel said the Democratic Party "no longer represents my vision for our great country."
"The fact is, the Democratic Party today is no longer the party of FDR," he said. "It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism -- all of which I find anathema to my views.
"By and large, I have been repeatedly marginalized in both national debates and in media exposure by the Democratic leadership, which works in tandem with the corporate interests that control what we read and hear in the media.
"I look forward to advancing my presidential candidacy within the Libertarian Party, which is considerably closer to my values, my foreign policy views and my domestic views."
* Is this a band? Additional Googling provides no further illumination.