Saturday, March 31, 2007

Happy Birthday, Al...but don't run!


So, Al Gore turns 59 today. As a sworn Gore loyalist and having had the privilege of being one of his interns in the Spring of 2000, I wanted to wish the great human being a very happy birthday. Though a smidgen of pain still lingers over the events of 2000, which I believe was a stolen election, I think his time has passed for becoming president. He did gain a new respectability for his well received documentary on global warming last year, as well as an Oscar, and potentially even a Nobel Peace Prize later this year, however, that doesn't automatically translate into votes. Too many people I've met don't like him...whether they are liberals or conservatives. I never understood that. I've been a Gore supporter from way back. In fact, in 1992, I had planned to vote for Ross Perot (scary thought, I know!) until Clinton selected Gore as a running mate. That key decision won me over to a candidate I didn't fully trust. And it's amazing...Clinton is so much more popular than Gore, with flaws and all!

Sometimes, when reflect on how far I've fallen since my optimistic days of early 2000, I wonder what my life would've been like had Gore assumed the presidency and I was hired to work in his administration. That was the scenario I had planned since they won in 1992. I knew back then that I wanted to work in a Gore Administration in the new century, and from there, launch into my career as a novelist. Bush deprived me of that, and managed to make a mess of things that the next president will have to spend a lot of time cleaning up. Because of Bush's disaster of a presidency, a Gore Administration in 2009 would be far different from a Gore Administration in 2001. For one thing, instead of a government surplus to work with, the next president inherits the nation's largest debt ever. Instead of peacetime prosperity, the next president inherits an unpopular war, which will lose even more support as conservative voters will most likely turn against the war when a Democrat is the Commander in Chief (their loyalty is not to America's best interest, but what's the best interest for the Republican Party).

Perhaps the biggest reason I think Gore should not run is for personal and selfish reasons of my own that have nothing to do with him. In college, after a spring break roadtrip to the Pacific Northwest, I fell in love with Portland, Oregon and swore that I would live there someday. I also loved Vancouver BC and Coeur d'Alene ID. It was the region I knew I'd settle in, but my focus was on getting my degree in International Politics and moving to Washington, D.C. to serve in one presidential administration...Gore's. When I failed to land a job in D.C. and returned to my "Plan C" of Atlanta, and then the election fraud of 2000, I pretty much gave up on the idea of working in a presidential administration. When I decided once and for all to move to Portland last year, it was a move that was a big pain in terms of sorting through things and not bringing most of my things with me (I still have to make that U-Haul journey). Now that I'm here, I don't want to move again...at least not across this great country of ours. Any future moves will be regional, within the four states of Oregon, Washington, northern Idaho, or northern California, or even British Columbia.

However, there's a part of me that still wants to be a part of the Gore Administration if he decided to run and actually won. It's a dream that lives on from 1992. It's hard to explain, other than that I feel spiritually connected to Al Gore. When I was an intern in D.C., up close with the Senators on Capitol Hill, I read a lot about various politicians that I admired and realized out of all the ones I liked, the person I had the most in common with was Al Gore. Both Al and I are introverts who dislike the glad-handling that comes with politics. Running for office is a pain, but serving in the role of the politician is more our style. Like Al, I can be wonky. I love reading on issues and staying current on new ideas. In a Washington Post article, I read that as a young man, Gore had a debate with himself on whether to become a novelist or a politician, a debate that I was having with myself at the time of my internship. Like Al, I think of the world in visionary terms. In fact, Gore had a huge picture of the world on his office wall. I've always been more of a global/internationalist since elementary school. I preferred global politics to the rather dull local government of towns and states. And like Al, I'm most attracted to extroverted women. When I saw Tipper Gore interact with Secret Service agents, I knew why he was attracted to her. At the time, I was smitten with an extroverted girl myself. She brought me out of my natural reserve with people. I felt more loose and free, able to engage in small talk with strangers, whenever I was around her. There are more commonalities between him and I than I can remember right now. That's the reason why if he were to become president, I'd be a natural political aide to work for him. Our thinking is similar. I'm naturally loyal (to a point...I won't violate my conscience for anyone), so he'd find a good "clone" in someone like me. And I'm not talking about a senior staff job. I'd love any position in his administration, though personal assistant would be my dream job.

However, as I said...I believe his time has passed. Now the nomination is Hillary's to lose. That's who the Democratic establishment is supporting. From my understanding, there has always been a chill between the Gore and Hillary camps within the Clinton Administration. We even saw how it played out in 2004, when Gore endorsed Howard Dean, who was the anti-Clinton candidate, while people speculated that the Clintons supported Wesley Clark, then John Kerry (supposedly knowing that either of those candidates would lose to Bush, leaving the way for Hillary to run in 2008...which was probably their plan all along).

Gore might not ever be president as he had dreamed about since childhood, but he still remains as the best Vice President our country has ever had. And now he has an Oscar, and potentially a Nobel Peace Prize. He should model himself after Mikhail Gorbachev, who is reviled within his own country but beloved everywhere else. Gore is a citizen of the world. One of those politicians who rise above the petty politics of national interests to represent the hopes and dreams of the people around the world...people like Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama, and Aung San Suu Kyi. That's not a bad place to be. He can do more for our planet as an inspirational global leader, leading the world towards a more sustainable future. He should follow the Obi-Wan Kenobi model. In "Star Wars", Obi-Wan told Darth Vader, "if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." That phrase has been a cryptic secret all my life, as I wondered how that could possibly be true. Somewhere in my mid-20s, I realized the powerful truth of that statement. Too many people think true power comes at the point of the barrel of a gun. That is, by a show of force, they can make a person do their bidding or take away the person's life. However, history has shown that death never defeats a powerful idea. Too many inspirational leaders have been killed before their time (Socrates, Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr, JFK, RFK), but their legacy lives on in the lives of the people they touch. Jesus had asked what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul (a teaching Bush has ignored). True power is just the opposite. Live true to your soul and you can change the world! Happy 59th Birthday, Al!

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