What could have been…

Those familiar with this space know where I stand politically.  Basically, wherever Dubya doesn’t.  [tag]H.L. Mencken[/tag] once said “Democracy is the theory that holds that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”  I’ve often commented that Dubya is exactly the President Americans deserved to get in 2000.

Since 2000 I’ve dumped on [tag]Al Gore[/tag] a fair bit.  His campaign for the Presidency was feeble, at best.  But I’ve given him credit time and again for sticking by his convictions.  Had Gore swallowed his convictions and asked [tag]Bill Clinton[/tag] to campaign for him I have no doubt that he would not only have won the election outright (and not by the slim popular vote margin he did, in fact, win by) but by a landslide.

Al Gore served as Vice President in an Administration that oversaw the greatest economic prosperity this nation has ever witnessed.  For all his flaws (and it would take a library full of books to give them any justice) Bill Clinton was a massively popular President.  The vast majority of Americans trusted him to run the country well, if not to keep his dick in his pants (or to tell the truth to his friends, his family or even a Grand Jury).  If the Gore campaign had been run by simply putting Bill Clinton on a stage to say “This man was right there with me for the last eight years, if you like the way things have been going, vote for him” then Al Gore would have kicked Dubya’s ass so hard he’d have been tasting shit for a month.

But Al Gore does have convictions, and one of those convictions is that you don’t win at all costs.  You don’t sell out your belief that telling the truth is more important than winning an election.  By all accounts, after Clinton admitted that he’d lied to his staff, his friends, his family and the Grand Jury, Vice President Gore shut himself and his staff off from Clinton and stopped supporting him.  One story even puts it so far as to say that Gore only spoke to the President when necessary from that point on.   To then ask Bill Clinton to campaign for him and with him would have been hypocritical.  So, without the big guns in his camp Al Gore lost the election due to shifty maneuverings by the Bush camp, a suspect ruling by the US Supreme Court and a spineless Democratic party who insisted that he concede defeat.

What Gore has done since losing the Electoral College vote and the White House with it can only be described as admirable.  His film, [tag]An Inconvenient Truth[/tag] is causing people all over the US to actually think about global climate change in a meaningful way.  And his continued advocacy for the poor and for improving American public education have made him, oddly enough, a front-runner for the Democratic Presidential ticket in [tag]2008[/tag].

I really hope Gore throws his hat in the ring.  He could be a very good, if not great, President.  What concerns me is that, should he run, he would bow to the advice of campaign strategists once again and run a campaign that is too soft and doesn’t let anyone actually get to know him.  I also fear that he dislikes campaigning so much that he’d refuse to acknowledge that this time, at the very least, he needs to win at all costs.

Have a look at this short film, produced by [tag]Spike Jonez[/tag] in 1999 during the campaign.  It was never used, and that’s unfortunate, because what clearly comes through is that Al Gore is a good man.  Sure, he tries to use his talking points when the camera is just on him (his big issue in 1999 was education reform – an important issue that voters basically don’t give two shits about), but when he’s with his family you see someone we’d all be proud to have leading our country.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the link to Spike’s film.

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