The polls as we speak have painted a picture of a “horse race” that has been etched into the minds of all Americans. The leaders are Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Coming in closely behind are John Edwards and Bill Richardson. Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and Dennis Kucinich trail behind the leaders significantly. And Mike Gravel is unfortunately that angry old man, a curmudgeon, who we have all grown to laugh at as he continues to hang in the race despite his 0% registered support.
There is one catch however. Some of the polls for Democrats show Al Gore with a significant percentage of support. He in fact was ahead of many at one point but has since drifted back down to single digits in the polls. But what’s amazing is that people are still trying to draft Al Gore for 2008. And even more important, Al Gore is holding on to constituents who could be supporting candidates that are really running for election in 2008.
What does this mean for Democratic candidates? It means that Democratic candidates can expect to see a group of voters up for grabs in the coming months (that is, if Gore is truly not running for president, which I think it is safe to say he is not). And who will those voters go to? Most likely, Al Gore supporters will go for Hillary Rodham Clinton believing that maybe they will get more of the Bill Clinton policy they used to love so dearly. Or perhaps, they will go for Barack Obama’s charisma and eloquent speaking abilities. Or maybe, they will even move to a candidate who has been labeled “minor” by the media like Dennis Kucinich.
Why are there so many Americans who are willing to hang back hoping for Al Gore to run? DraftGore.com gives good reasoning:
Whether the issue is global warming, war and peace, reforming government, or leading a technological revolution, Al Gore has always been ahead of the curve. The climate crisis may be hot today, but Congressman Gore was pounding on this issue long before Washington had even heard of global warming.
At a time when politicians have lost the art of inspiring and leading, Al Gore speaks the truth and speaks it from the heart. His message is born out of conviction and is often decades ahead of its time. And he never gives in to politics as usual.
I disagree with the group’s contention that Al Gore never gave in to politics as usual. I don’t think Al Gore is the only politician who speaks from the heart either. But, that’s not the point here. The point is:
Al Gore personifies a cause to millions of people who fiercely believe he was rightfully elected in 2000, and who will never get over the events that stopped the counting of the votes in Florida and put the election in the hands of a partisan Supreme Court. To this day people continue to address him as President Gore. As Martin Peretz wrote in a June 2006 op-ed in The New Republic, “there is an undercurrent of guilt around the country about the fact that the presidency was taken from him by a vote of 5 to 4."
If you notice on the site where this is from, the group refers to Gore as “a cause that shall never die”. As a Kucinich supporter, I can identify with this kind of faith in an individual. I’m willing to go to the nth degree to defend Kucinich, speak out and spread the word of Kucinich, and vote for Kucinich in 2008. And I feel bad for these people that Al Gore hasn’t stepped up and run for office.
But why may that be? Why isn’t he running? Perhaps, Al Gore has realized that it is much easier to do what one wants to do outside of being president. Perhaps, Al Gore is enjoying himself a bit too much these days. He may want to focus on global climate change advocacy and his Current television channel instead of taking on the role of our nation’s leader. (In fact, I think if you read The Assault on Reason by Al Gore you will have no trouble agreeing with me.)
Gore does not just play out as a factor in the polls. Right now, he also stands to benefit any of the Democratic candidates greatly. There are many implications, but whoever Al Gore comes out speaking in favor of or “endorsing”, which is what it will be referred to as even if it is not formal endorsement, will see a boost in their poll numbers immediately. Should Gore stand up and say explicitly, “I do not plan to run and instead, I support this Democratic candidate to run”, than supporters of organizations like Draft Gore in 2008 will dissolve, followers of Gore and members of Draft Gore will move to the “next best candidate”, or each one of those followers will examine each candidate and decide who to vote for, which may even lead to many voting for a third party candidate.
Something to take note of is the fact that Al Gore supporters are looking at this race from the outside and critiquing all candidates from the “minor” candidates to the “major” candidates. Primarily, they are examining policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Many are more than likely in fact examining John Edwards and Bill Richardson also. Supporters are taking each of those stances on the issues and each proposed policies and comparing them to Gore so that they can better promote a Gore campaign. And as they come to dislike those candidates more and more and become more hooked on a possible Al Gore run, what happens when he doesn’t run? Do they choose the lesser of two evils and go for a popular major candidate? Or do they vote their conscience and go for a candidate like Dennis Kucinich?
Bottom line: Even after Labor Day, Al Gore is still on the minds of Democrats. He just seems like the guy who should be cleaning up the mess George W. Bush made. And so, some Americans wait and wonder if he will run or who he will endorse. Thus, the deciding factor of this election may not be special interests, corporate interests, or the amount of money one raises. It could be whether Al Gore likes what candidates bring to the table or not. And if that’s so, based on what each Democratic candidate brings, Gore will decide who deserves to lead America into a new and brighter day.