In May, I wrote a piece declaring Al Gore the only viable choice for the presidency in 2008. His intellect, heart and experience, I wrote, made him the ideal candidate to rescue America from its dismal, Bush-led condition. In the intervening months, I have faithfully monitored Al Gore news, hungering for tidbits pointing to a possible run. Another interview where he won’t completely rule out a run! He’s running on the treadmill again, that has to mean something, right? After this weekend, I have changed my mind.
It was a significant few days in the fight to draw Gore back into the political arena he says he no longer loves. On October 10, the grassroots site DraftGore.com collected enough donations to take out a full-page ad in The New York Times reminding Gore that in his 2000 concession speech, he said he would not forget the Americans who felt their voices were silenced. Then, on October 12, along with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. Gore supporters had hoped the statement following his win would mark the moment he would finally announce his intention to run, but he instead reiterated the importance of fighting global warming.
His choice to do so is an apt metaphor for why he shouldn’t run. He has dedicated himself to a cause, has received worldwide accolades for his efforts, and has jostled his way from being a downtrodden, picked-apart politician who watched his plans for America slip through his fingers to becoming America’s hero – a man who could have been everything Bush wasn’t, a man who leads the fight to save not just the U.S., but the entire planet.
The divergent paths of our current president and our almost president are now at the pinnacle of separation. Bush continues to lose approval. The war trudges on. His reign is coming to an end. Al Gore, however, was just awarded a prize that George W. Bush probably feels he deserves but will never receive. According to the DraftGore ad, 136,000 Americans have signed their petition imploring Gore to run. No one – save a few Republican commentators – talks about the color of his shirts, the monotony of his voice or his lack of beer buddy potential anymore.
If Al Gore were to become president, he would no longer have the glow of a man who would have been a better president than George W. Bush. He will no longer be a bastion of what could have been had a thousand more Americans swayed in his favor. The media will certainly find new ways to criticize insubstantial parts of his character.
Eventually, Al Gore’s presidential position would undermine his climate change fight by imbedding politics deeper into a debate that should have never been political in the first place. Global warming skeptics who are also Republicans, and I assume there are many, would have new motivation to discredit climate change.
Also, if elected president, Gore may have the power to make real changes to our country’s environmental policy. But he would lack the time needed to do so. Cleaning up the mess his predecessor left behind would be no easy task. For the next four-to-eight years of his life he would be unable to devote himself to fighting climate change. Another figure outside of politics would have to assume Al Gore’s position as the leader of the global warming fight, and likely no one else could fill his shoes.
I’m confident that Al Gore could undo the damage left behind by Hurricane George and bring forth a better America, but what about the rest of the world?
At first, I thought it was selfish of Gore to eschew a presidential bid in favor of devoting himself to climate change. I asked, doesn’t he understand how badly we need him? He could be America’s ultimate comeback story! I didn’t realize at the time, however, that he already is.
It is time I stop being selfish. Al Gore could have saved our country, and if he decides to take on that task after all, I will not hesitate to vote for him. But for now, I’ve decided to let him save the world instead.
© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.