Yesterday, I received an action request message from Democrats.com, a very progressive but unofficial sub-group of the Democratic Party. It asks for support on several activist topics, including two very controversial ones: 1) petitioning Al Gore to run for President, and 2) calling for the impeachment of George Bush for violating the FISA laws starting one month after his (s)election.
Many people consider the prospect of impeaching the President controversial. Personally, I believe Dick Cheney and George Bush should be impeached for the large number of high crimes and misdemeanors they and their cronies have committed, and I signed that petition.
However, I won't sign their petition, or any others now being circulated, attempting to draft Al Gore into the Democratic primary. I find attempting to draft Mr. Gore into the Presidential race controversial, and potentially very damaging to the party's efforts to elect a Democratic President in 2008. Splitting the allegiance of Democratic supporters between Al Gore and the other Democratic candidates is contrary to the party's best interests.
This is especially true since I don't believe Mr. Gore wants to run. His aversion to retail politics is well known. Further, his stature as an elder statesman, and now a prophet of climate change, gives him power to effect positive social change on a global level that he would be foolish to squander.
If I could speak to him personally, I'd urge Mr. Gore to "do a Sherman," to make the definitive statement, "If nominated, I will not accept. If drafted, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve." and put an end to all this counterproductive speculation.
My respect for Mr. Gore is long standing and profound. The Nobel Prize he so richly deserves is only the current public acknowledgment of his many years of visionary leadership and public service. I believe Mr. Gore deserved to be, and should have been, President starting in 2000 and that he would be an excellent President if elected in 2008.
However, unless and until Mr. Gore publicly declares his decision to be a candidate, attempting to draft him by petition seems an exercise in nostalgia and wishful thinking more than a political action, which action we sorely need to regain and secure the future of the American dream. Petitions are admirable indications of public sentiment, but they don't change government policies - winning elections does.
I prefer the election of any Democratic candidate to any Republican because I believe no Republican will work to reverse the terrible precedents for our society and our Constitutional rights that Bush and Cheney have set in motion. They will want to forget the whole shameful era. Frankly, I'm not sure a Democratic administration and Democratically controlled Congress will be entirely successful in reversing this shameful era either, but the odds are much higher that they will make an effort to do so. Therefore, any effort that compromises that goal is unacceptable.
I believe these attempts to draft Al Gore represent such a threat. I see in this effort a wishful frame of mind that suggests that if Mr. Gore is elected we will be safe from the radical right and people can breathe a sigh of relief and return to their daily lives. They want to escape politics. These people think, wishfully, and often unconsciously, that if Al Gore was in charge, they wouldn't have to worry about politics for years to come and wouldn't have to concentrate daily, and often fearfully, on where the republic is headed.
Wishful thinking is the first step on the road to political despair. The desire to ignore messy practical realities. Wishful thinkers don't vote. They leave the mess to other people to fix. "It will never be the way I want it to be, so why bother voting?" This is a terrible trend to support.
Democracy is a messy and sometimes depressing business. I'm convinced that I will have to be politically aware and active for the rest of my life. But I no longer consider this a burden. I consider it an honor and a duty to the ideals of personal freedom first put forth by our Founding Fathers.
I'll be interested in your comments, whether pro or con.
Sunday, October 14, 2007