Al Gore's Socratic Dilemma
Al Gore cannot run for president, if he wants to maintain his newfound moral leadership. But if he is elected anyway, I am sure he would serve.
Al Gore is faced with a dilemma.
On one hand, he would like to be president. I believe this is why he has never completely ruled out the possibility of running for president. He came about as close as anybody can come to becoming president, and he was denied.
On the other hand, if he were to use his newfound fame and reputation that is based on his selfless caring for Mother Earth, it would undermine his position and his character.
Personally, I wouldn't hold it against him. I've always liked Gore. I will completely acknowledge his lack of charisma, but charisma is really not a good judge of a person's intelligence or wisdom. And I believe that his stiff personality was really caused by the stress of running a political campaign, and it is not his true nature. As we have seen in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore is quite charismatic. Al Gore is a thinker, and thinkers really like solitude and time to think and meditate. Being thrust into a political campaign, where you are shaking hands all day long, making perfunctory conversation with complete strangers, and wrestling with your own conscience about the half-truths you have to say in order to maintain your viability as a candidate, is not a comfortable place for a thinker. I'd like to see how you'd hold up to that kind of abuse and scrutiny.... Political campaigns are places where liars and narcisists thrive. Thinkers, however, don't thrive. Hence, Al Gore.
But when you see Al Gore speak about Global Warming, you see his eyes light up. This is a cause he can believe in, and he doesn't have to equivocate about anything. He's just telling the (inconvenient) truth, and his conscience is clear.
Though thinkers typically do not thrive running a political campaign, that does not mean that they cannot be excellent leaders. Winning a popularity contest has nothing to do with your ability to make good decisions.
So, back to the point of this essay. Socrates, as you may know, was sentenced to death by the government of Athens for undermining the political system, and for corrupting morals. He had sworn allegience to the city-state of Athens prior to this trial, and the implications of this were that he might have to face the punishment dealt out by Athens if he were ever convicted of a crime. Even though he had ample opportunity to escape, he stayed in Athens and willingly drank hemlock (a poison.) He chose to do this because to do otherwise would have undermined his principles of truth and virtue.
Al Gore has been elevated to the status of a champion for mankind. While his beliefs about global warming may have GIGANTIC political implications, he has remained above the political rancor that his beliefs have created. He is a champion for truth, whereas politicians are not normally heralded for their truthfulness. Politicians are constantly battling an onslaught of attacks against their character, and they must do this to maintain their credibility and political influence. But how can you successfully undermine a man doggedly maintaining what most scientists see as a scientifically proven fact? He's not running for office, and he doesn't care what you think of him. He sincerely wants to stop global warming, but he cannot possibly do that without maintaining his scientifically endorsed message. You can attack him as a hypocrite, and try to assasinate his character, but that will not change the truth that he's spreading. I'm sure he's making a lot of money by spreading this truth, but I don't think that anybody will deny him this pitance. He has spread the message loudly and clearly about global warming and the global implications of such, and he did this because he thought it was the right thing to do. He didn't sit with consultants since the 2000 presidential election about what strategy he should use to worm his way back into political power like most politicians would. He basically said TO HELL WITH POLITICS and instead chose to champion a cause that he believes in. Politicians don't do this. Politicians make deals in back rooms to gain power, and constantly compromise their principles for money and power. They don't start lecturing across the country to small crowds and little fanfare about a problem that isn't very monetarily profitable.
If Mr. Gore chooses to run for president, it will potentially damage his current status. It could also damage his cause, because it might look to some that he was simply using this cause to gain power. However, if Al Gore were to win the Democratic nomination WITHOUT competing for it, I believe he would run for president. He would be drafted into service, rather than seeking the power. He would have a mandate. He could hold his head up high, and he could tell the truth, all the while knowing that he has not sacrificed his cause or his character.
For further information about the campaign to draft Al Gore, see www.draftgore.com