Get Over It: A Column, Issue 5

Cassandra Bristol, Opinions Editor

Senator Mike Gravel. You probably haven’t heard of him. But the story of his political campaigns in the past and current endeavors done in his honor show an interesting and inspiring perspective on the modern progressive movement and its future.

According to his website, Gravel was a French Canadian, the third of five children, from Springfield, Massachusetts. Suffering from severe dyslexia, he didn’t do very well in early school. Later, he would enlist in the military, and work many different jobs. He eventually decided to move to Alaska, a seemingly unlikely place to begin his political journey. After being a state representative and losing his election for the U.S. House of Representatives, he wound up serving in the U.S. Senate, representing Alaska, from 1969 to 1981.

After avoiding electoral politics for a number of years, Gravel would later participate in seven presidential debates, with his Senate record and role in the releasing of the Pentagon Papers acting as boosts to his reputation. Yet, his progressive politics made him an enemy of the Democratic party.

In September 2007, Gravel was denied access to the prominent MSNBC debate. He has stated that this is because General Electric, the corporate owner of the TV channel, didn’t seem too keen on his opposition to the military-industrial complex, and I wouldn’t doubt it. However much faith you may have in the American electoral process, I urge you to open your eyes to the inequities of our primary election system (

In recent years, the senator has regained some attention. His 2020 election, which many people view as a nonchalant publicity stunt, was actually quite inspiring. His staffers consisted of teenagers, and he ran not for the purpose of winning, but for the purpose of spreading awareness about the issues he has always stood for. Following his passing in 2021, his staffers now run “The Gravel Institute,” which seeks to combat far-right propaganda and fight for progressive issues.

So, what’s the point of writing this long-winded biography about yet another old white man in politics, you may ask? Hope. Gravel’s long-standing fight for progressive politics has shown that, while there are seriously corrupt institutions in this country, anybody can make their voice heard, gain a following, and take a stand – no matter if the status quo likes it or not. Whether you’re a dyslexic kid from Springfield or a teenager who has the wild idea of calling up a man in his eighties to convince him to run for president again, or none of the above, you have the potential to make a difference.