The New York Times Magazine today has a funny/compelling story about the “Gravel teens,” two leftwing New York 18-year-olds who are running former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel’s improbable run for president at age 88, as he sits at home in California.
The teens, Henry Williams and David Oks, launched the campaign in March, publishing tweets under Gravel’s name. “Don’t tweet anything I wouldn’t say,” he said, handing over his login info.
Their goal is not to win the nomination but qualify Gravel for debates by garnering 65,000 donors, so that he can move the discussion leftwards. Left how? Reports Jamie Lauren Kieles:
Gravel’s platform, the most detailed of any Democratic candidate’s, includes a vast slate of issues that poll well with young voters: immigration reform, student-debt forgiveness, a Green New Deal, military-spending cuts, a policy of nonaggression abroad. Oks and Williams call Gravel a few times a week to approve any additions to the slate. Because Gravel isn’t really trying to be president, he can also afford to openly support reparations, the decriminalization of sex work and the end of “Israeli apartheid” — policies considered urgent on the far left but largely ignored or rejected by the Democratic Party….
Broadly speaking, the Mike Gravel campaign is part of the same Democratic Socialist moment that elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018 and nearly nominated Bernie Sanders in 2016.
If you go to Gravel’s website, you see that the Times does Gravel and the teens a huge disservice by failing to note how antiwar the entire thrust of Gravel website is.
“End the American Empire… The time has come… to fundamentally shift the dialogue of American politics. I’m running for president to force the tough conversation about the costs of endless wars…”
The Israel plank is one of a dozen aimed at generating a foreign policy of peace. Notice the url the teens chose for the Israel plank: http://www.mikegravel.org/issues/netanyahusucks/ And notice the political sophistication of the position: an end to military aid to Israel, the focus on the lobby and its influence, the slam at the passivity of the Democrats, the hat-tips to Ilhan Omar and Walt and Mearsheimer, and the call for a “mature” relationship with Israel. And yes: recognize a state of Palestine or call for a “plural state” with equal rights, that’s revolutionary.
For too long, America has given uncritical support to the Likud government of Israel, which has enacted racist apartheid-style policies designed to disenfranchise Palestinians. American leadership, both Democratic and Republican, has watched, both approvingly and passively, as Israel illegally annexed Palestinian land, encouraging further encroachment through billions of dollars in military aid, the placement of the American embassy in Jerusalem, and the recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
Groups like AIPAC wield far too much influence over our foreign policy, as critics like Rep. Ilhan Omar, as well as mainstream experts like Professors Stephen Walt and John J. Mearsheimer, have highlighted for more than a decade. It is time to craft a foreign policy independent of undue influence by the Israel lobby, and to stop turning a blind eye to the injustices of the occupation.
The United States should:
Establish a mature, non-partisan relationship with Israel and its neighbors, including through multilateral mechanisms, to promote mutual peace, security and wellbeing.
End military aid to Israel.
Refuse to support laws aiming to stifle the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that cripple freedoms of speech and association.
Recognize Palestinian statehood or call for a plural state in which Israelis and Palestinians all enjoy full and equal rights in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Back in 2008 the Obama campaign had to pull an ad that appeared online linked to Walt and Mearsheimer’s book; and Obama threw the scholars under the bus. The next generation isn’t pandering.
Though notice that the Times relegates the Israel issue to a series of utopian proposals that it says are a third rail in politics, not its reasonable progressive list that includes immigration reform. Here is Gravel’s stance on the “puritanical” laws aimed at sex workers. Here’s the proposal for $30 billion a year from the government for reparations for the “systematic disenfranchisement of and discrimination against significant groups of people, whose descendants still suffer today.”
H/t Donald Johnson.