Going gaga for Gravel

Sometimes, you don’t mean to fall in love. It just happens. With spring in the air and the cherry blossoms blooming in Washington, I confess I find myself falling fast and hard for a new guy on the scene. Well, actually, an old guy who is back on the scene. Or really, an old guy pushed back onto the scene by a group of teenagers.

As Democratic presidential contenders pop their heads up like daffodils after the final winter freeze, one in particular has caught my eye: former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska. If Joe BidenJoe BidenDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized Pfizer to apply for COVID-19 booster approval for 16- and 17-year-olds: report Coronavirus variant raises fresh concerns for economy MORE is too young for you, Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo This week: Congress starts year-end legislative sprint Restless progressives eye 2024 MORE too restrained, and Andrew YangAndrew YangPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run At 28 percent approval, say goodbye to Kamala Harris being Plan B to an aging Biden Adams wins New York City mayor's race MORE too mainstream, Mike Gravel just might be your guy.


Gravel’s presidential campaign is all YOLO, all the time, which makes sense when you consider that he is 88 years old. He has no intention of becoming president, and has been talked into running by two teenage leftists who tweet on his behalf. In an announcement audiogram posted to Twitter (it’s just audio with a glamour shot of Gravel) he says: “This is Mike Gravel. I’d like to thank, uh, the supporters who are putting up… . No, let me start over.” He then he makes clear (sort of) his goal of amassing 65,000 donors so that he can qualify for the debates: “I hope that we can meet the goal of 60,000 … no, 650… no, 65,000… .”

Other tweets spell out that Gravel’s goal is to make the debates, push the field to the left, and then drop out and endorse the most progressive candidate. Gravel, who famously read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, doesn’t want to be president. He wants to destroy the Overton Window that has locked Dems into a conventional political debate. And I’m here for it.

But hey, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE never meant to be president, either, and yet, here we are. Perhaps what America really loves is people who run for president but have no desire to actually be president. Maybe America loves candidates who say things you 100 percent should never say if you want to be president. Pundits might call Gravel a straight-shooter; he’s not poll-tested, he’s “authentic.” After all, who else in the race is going to tweet: “Say what you will about (Mayor Pete) Buttigieg but at least the latest narcissistic product of The Best Schools TM to rule Macron-style over a decaying country mired in poverty and addiction will speak Norwegian. It’ll be cool.”

Who else is going to say his campaign is about “forcing centrists to confront the immorality of our imperial projects,” or that “singing about ‘unity’ and ‘love’ as your overarching ‘ideas’ usually doesn’t stop an international rising tide of fascism driven by economic deprivation and climate change”?

Did I mention that I love this guy? As of this writing, Gravel was sitting pretty in second place in Democracy For America’s online poll. What are you waiting for people? Vote and propel him to No. 1! Give him $1 so that he can get to the debate stage and tell Beto O’Rourke face-to-face that his words are meaningless drivel. With these impressive DFA results, Gravel practically has achieved frontrunner status. Any so-called “journalist” treating him as anything other than a top-tier contender obviously is an establishment tool doing everything wrong, who learned nothing from the 2016 election.

Consider for a moment that maybe the perfect candidate to beat Trump is a guy who is even older, has even less of an organization, and cares even less. Well, maybe he’s not the perfect candidate to actually beat Trump, but Gravel could be just the guy to call everyone on their B.S., chart a course back to the progressivism of yore, before the boomers ruined everything, and generally make everyone on the debate stage laugh nervously because they can’t decide whether this guy is totally crazy or totally correct.

For the record, the answer is: totally correct. Also, anything that will get this video of Gravel doing the Soulja Boy dance back into rotation is a good thing for America in my book. As Gravel would say (or, as his teenage staffers would say): “Welcome to the Gravelanche.”

Krystal Ball is the liberal co-host of “Rising,” Hill.TV’s bipartisan morning news show. She is president of The People’s House Project, which recruits Democratic candidates in Republican-held congressional districts of the Midwest and Appalachia, and a former candidate for Congress in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @krystalball.