As an aside, I am really disgusted by the vulgar, disgusting, and sexist comments about Hillary Clinton I get from Barack Obama supporters. I hope this isn’t the change he’s talking about.
Anyways, I was at Barnes and Noble today and I passed by a book about Al Gore. It made me think of what would have happened had Al Gore ran for president this year.
During my senior year in college, I was excited about the 2000 presidential campaign. It was the first time I would be able to vote in a presidential election. I immediately gravitated toward the campaign of Senator Bill Bradley. He inspired me to get involved in the political process. I got to meet and talk to him when he campaigned at UW. It was something I will never forget. However, he was up against Vice President Al Gore in the Democratic primary. I wasn’t so sure about Al Gore since he had to carry the baggage of the Clinton administration. I didn’t know too much about Al Gore. During the primary, Al Gore pretty much clobbered Bill Bradley. Gore threw punches at Bradley and he didn’t fight back. That really was disconcerting for me because of Bradley’s unwillingness to punch back. In the end, his reluctance to fight back against Gore cost him the nomination.
When Al Gore won the Democratic nomination, I got to learn more and more about him. He had volunteered to fight in Vietnam when he didn’t have to go as a son of a US senator. His freshman roommate at Harvard was Tommy Lee Jones. He had gone to Vanderbilt Divinity School after he came back from Vietnam. Al Gore was the loyal Vice President to Bill Clinton even through the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
What inspired me about Al Gore in 2000 was that he had a populist message emphasizing that he was a fighter for the people. Contrastly, George W Bush’s campaign was about being a compassionate conservative and his slogan was “I’m a uniter, not a divider.” He was touting his ability to work with Democrats in Texas. However, that sort of language doesn’t really inspire me. It’s nice that you believe in unity, but in the end that doesn’t necessarily change anything. I think that’s why Obama’s message of unity doesn’t necessarily inspire me, though it makes me fuzzy inside sometimes.
So it just made me remember how George W Bush was touting himself as the one who could unite the country after the tumultous Clinton years. I just didn’t trust that rhetoric and I was later proven to be right. Al Gore, on the other hand, reminds me of John Edwards as someone fighting for the people and the invisible (except John Edwards record in the Senate didn’t reflect his present populist views and that’s what held me back from supporitng him). He was willing to punch back when attacked. That just resonates me. Someone who is willing to fight for their convictions is someone I trust more than someone who comes in with nice rhetoric without any actions to back it up.
Al Gore inspired me to get involved in the political process. I even wrote my senior thesis on the role of Asian Americans on the 2000 elections and how they helped Al Gore win the popular vote. I remember when he kissed his wife Tipper at the Democratic National Convention and he exclaimed, “I am my own man!” And that statement resonated throughout the campaign.
On election night of 2000, I waited expectantly for the results. I remember Florida projected for Al Gore. Then a few hours later, they took it away from him and eventually gave it to George W Bush. Later that night, the cable news companies gave the presidency to George W Bush even though he had lost the popular vote and Florida was still up in the air. I remember how crushed I was that night. I took down all my Al Gore posters and stickers and I was so distraught. Then when the Supreme Court intervened to give George W Bush the presidency, it turned me off from politics for awhile (until September 11th). To this day, I know he won Florida and should have been president.
Imagine what would have happened if Al Gore were president now? We wouldn’t be in Iraq and have 4000 dead Americans fighting in a war that was based on lies. Al Gore was the first person to come out against the Iraq War, before Howard Dean and way before Barack Obama, while he was a state senator in Illinois.
If Al Gore were running for the Democratic nomination right now, I would have been supporting him without a shadow of a doubt. I still think among the candidates now that Hillary Clinton is still the best candidate. A big reason I decided to support Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama is that I see in Hillary Clinton a fighter, a person who has taken so many blows, but fights back and is still standing tall. I agree with Clinton that I don’t really care for unity for the sake of unity. I would rather see people fight what they believe in. I usually gravitate toward the fighter instead of the uniter. However, I think Al Gore would be a superior candidate to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have not been able to unite the Democratic Party. They each occupy certain parts of the Democratic base, which the other one needs. I believe if Al Gore were running, he would be able to unify all the disperate parts of the Democratic Party unlike Clinton and Obama. I think he brings both experience and change together. He has the gravitas and status to compete with a John McCain on national security. Barack Obama may have been against the Iraq War, but get him on the stage with John McCain and see how small in stature he looks. What a stark contrast that will be. You have John McCain, a war hero, who endured torture in the Hanoi Hilton in North Vietnam versus a young, inexperienced three year US Senator from Illinois. With Al Gore, I think you have someone who has been to war and who has the experience to stand up to John McCain and also say he was right on the war. Al Gore would bring change that would be different than what he have now in the White House. His emphasis on climate change would be a welcome change from the Bush administration. Al Gore has inspired so many around the world with his books, movie, and lectures along with his Nobel Peace Prize. He would be the one to bring back America’s respect in the world.
Al Gore isn’t in the race and I sometimes think of what a president Gore would do now. He has the characteristics that both Clinton and Obama are missing. Al Gore is a fighter. He’s still fighting against climate change and the Iraq war. He has the ability to inspire, despite what the mainstream media tells you. Maybe it’s better for him to be a statesmen. But I still can dream of what a President Al Gore could do in these uncertain times.