December 15, 2002

Dear Al Gore

Dear Al,

I've been thinking about you since I just read a couple of articles by Sarah Vowell about you, about how you were too smart, too nerdy for today's politics and what a shame that is.

I have also listened to sound bites from the last few months, in which you have been critical of the impending war and of Republican economic policies. I have to say that you sounded pretty good. You didn't hedge your bets or worry about offending somebody every time you opened your mouth. What a refreshing change from practically every politician in the country, especially the Democrats. How are the Democrats going to attract support if they don't stand for anything?

Well, I just heard that you decided not to run for President. Probably a smart move. You would have been attacked from all sides and advised to death by well meaning consultants. Your strong direct appealing words wouldn't have lasted long.

You know, I am still furious over the way you blew the 2000 election. Oh, I know that you got more votes and really did win but it shouldn't even have been close. I know you are capable of delivering a strong, passionate message. At the convention and again the day before the election you made speeches that talked about empowering ordinary people and outlining the real differences between Democrats and Republicans. You made me want to support you then. Unfortunately, the rest of the campaign was so lackluster that even when you were right, you failed to engage me or make me want to vote. I would have voted for Nader if my state hadn't been so evenly divided. What almost saved you was fear of what Bush would do. We had no idea, of course, but what we did know was bad enough.

Now we see a President out of control. Republicans are on the attack, with an unabashed policy of enriching the rich with no controls, no thought for the rest of us. Democrats range from cheerleaders for the Republicans to silence. Nobody will say a thing in favor of the majority, the non-millionaires.

And yet, people are acting. Quietly organizing, publicly demonstrating. During the debate in Congress on the resolution authorizing attacking Iraq, representatives received thousands of letters opposed. They were deluged by opposition but most of them wouldn't go against the tide. There is no integrity in the process.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the responses, or lack thereof, to Trent Lott. The Senate Majority Leader, of course, said that he wished that Strom Thurmond's segregationist campaign for President in 1948 had succeeded. He couldn't have been clearer in his support for the policies that Thurmond espoused in that campaign. Thurmond was absolutely opposed to Civil Rights, just as Lott has consistently, in word and deed, opposed Civil Rights legislation. His statement last week showed that he still holds these views. There is no other way to understand it. At first, even the Democratic leadership said nothing, or tried to explain that Lott didn't really mean it. Nobody pressed Lott to explain exactly what he did mean. They only criticized him when it became clear that it would be politically advantageous to do so. And then they said as little as possible. They rushed to accept his apology that managed to not actually apologize for anything. This is the way they do things. They have to be forced to take a stand. Otherwise they just go right along with the corporatism that is rampant today.

I don't know what to do. Do we go Green? Do we try to take back the Democratic Party? Maybe we need a Gene McCarthy to really challenge the leadership and rally the opposition.

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