Vote Al Gore?
July 15, 2004 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Ignorant Canadian question of the day: Why isn't/doesn't Al Gore run in November? It seems that even those who hate Bush think Kerry doesn't have enough personality to win. Would Gore not be a shoe-in? Does he just not want to take over the mess that's been created by Bush or... ?
posted by dobbs to Law & Government (21 answers total)
I think Gore is a better candidate than Kerry. Heck, I think he's a better candidate now than Clinton was. But - that said - I think it's a matter of the fallout from 2000, and the Democratic party not wanting their cause to be subsumed by Gore's quest to redeem his ultimate loss. No one likes a loser.
posted by scarabic at 3:32 PM on July 15, 2004

Gore is not exactly Mr. Personality either, fiery recent speech notwithstanding. Plus he lost already, from a better starting point than the Dems have this year.
posted by smackfu at 3:34 PM on July 15, 2004

He wouldn't be a shoe-in.

1. He's been out of US politics since 2000, apart from a few speeches that showed more fire than he ever showed on the campaign trail. And when it comes to the US presidency, you almost need to start building momentum (and raising funds) 4 years in advance. By way of comparison, G.W.'s name was bandied about as presidential material before he was ever governor of Texas (yes, this is amazing).

2. Gore is too closely identified with Clinton, who (as you may have heard) is a very polarizing figure. If Gore had essentially stayed on the campaign trail, the Dems would have been stuck in a sort of Clintonian time-bubble. Which brings me to...

3. I don't really know, but I speculate that the Powers That Be within the party would have been deeply displeased if Gore tried to keep his hat in the ring, and would not have organized behind him.

4. At least during the postware era, people generally give up if they fail in a bid for presidency.

5. Gore was not generally known for his sparkling personality when he was campaigning, either (though Kerry talks like he's trying to make every statement the Gettysburg Address).
posted by adamrice at 3:34 PM on July 15, 2004

err, postwar
posted by adamrice at 3:36 PM on July 15, 2004

He already won the popular vote once. It would be greedy to do it again.
posted by luriete at 3:40 PM on July 15, 2004

American hates losers.

posted by falconred at 3:52 PM on July 15, 2004

4. At least during the postware era, people generally give up if they fail in a bid for presidency.

I think that's it more than anything else. People who lose one presidential election are seen, rightly or wrongly, as unelectable by party members. Since the civil war, only four people received a major-party nomination after losing a presidential election as a major-party candidate: William Jennings Bryan, Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, and Richard Nixon. Only Nixon won.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:54 PM on July 15, 2004

Kerry will pull out a lot before november, I paid cursory attention to his last senate run and his campaign style seems to be to save up for one overwhelming deathblow at the end of a campaign.

I, for one, can't wait.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:19 PM on July 15, 2004

Since the civil war, only four people received a major-party nomination after losing a presidential election as a major-party candidate: William Jennings Bryan, Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, and Richard Nixon.

Funny that you should mention Bryan. The play "Inherit the Wind" is a slightly-disguised version of the events surrounding the 1925 "Monkey Trial" of a high school teacher named Scopes who taught evolution in backwater Tennessee. The William Jennings Bryan pseudo-character has lost the bid for the presidency twice and is still trying to hang onto his almost-glory by taking on the Scopes case as his latest cause. The H.L. Mencken pseudo-character says of him:
"Something happens to an Also-Ran.
Something happens to the feet of a man
Who always comes in second in a foot-race.
He becomes a national unloved child,
A balding orphan, an aging adolescent
Who never got the biggest piece of candy.
Unloved children, of all ages, insinuate themselves into spotlights and rotogravures.
They stand on their hands and wiggle their feet.
Split pulpits with their pounding!
And their tonsils
Turn to organ pipes.
Show me a shouter,
And I'll show you an also-ran.
A might-have-been,
An almost-was."
I've always thought this summed up Al Gore pretty well, especially considering his post-Veep speeches and activities.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:30 PM on July 15, 2004

Except instead of ending up writihing on the ground calling for his momma/wife, Gore has continued to speak out on the most important issues and be heard. The guy isn't running for president, but you know what? He holds his head up. And good for him.
posted by scarabic at 4:38 PM on July 15, 2004

It's shoo-in.
posted by zadcat at 4:53 PM on July 15, 2004

The #1 thing the party and the voters care about is Electability. For every Dem in the race, it was an open question: Is_________ electable? Among all the prominent Dems, even including Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, there was only one person for whom that answer was definitively, demonstratively, "no." That's hard to overcome. Gore did not run a great campaign, and there's no reason to think he would run any more strongly this time. He didn't even win his home state, which is usually a gimme. Now he's got the stink of a loser on him. His assigned role is now Elder Statesman for the Opposition.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:04 PM on July 15, 2004

Gore wouldn't be a shoo-in and may, at this point, be too smart to want to be president of the US.
posted by jessamyn at 6:18 PM on July 15, 2004

While people have lost an election and run again, there is a stigma to losing in American society, even by technicality.Very few people admit to liking Gore.

I also think it's easy to minimize just how difficult it is to get a nomination. Gore would have had to prove himself in the primaries a second time, to cut deals and demonstrate that he is a safe bet by listening to what he supposedly did wrong, and promising to improve upon his performance.

It's really a loss. If he were a Canadian or a British Candidate, he would have remained active and influential. I admit it, I really admire Al Gore and felt good about voting for him. He didn't run the best campaign, but he was screwed by arcane rules that no-one can really defend.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:58 PM on July 15, 2004

The real question is why doesn't Dukakis run again?
posted by scarabic at 7:11 PM on July 15, 2004

Ignorant Canadian question of the day

Absolutely no reason to feel ignorant. Easily 9.8 out of 10 Americans couldn't tell you the name of the current PM of Canada, or even its capital city, even though Canada is one of the US's biggest trading partners as well as a right friendly neighbor. And you could spend a lifetime trying to locate an American who could tell you the name of a Canadian candidate from yesteryear. Sir, I'd say you're anything but ignorant.

And as to your question about Gore, we in Colorado ask the same thing about our homie Gary Hart (ran in '84 and '88; tinged by sex scandal in the latter campaign), and we're oft reminded that the DNC is reluctant to use up their nomination on someone whose name is associated with loss and/or contentious monkeyshines like scandal or the whole Florida 2000 thing.
posted by yalestar at 8:49 PM on July 15, 2004

Hmm. Thanks for all the answers, folks. I'd asked a few Canadians and they all felt the same way so...

I think our thinking was that:

1. He "really" won last time so is capable of winning.
2. Anyone who voted for him or against Bush last time certainly would this time.
3. He's indeed made some compelling speeches lately which must have won over a few people that way.
4. The people Bush has alienated that voted for him last time would not vote Bush again.

Hence... shoo-in. Obviously, the thinking's too simplistic, but still, it was bugging me.

So... thanks!
posted by dobbs at 9:53 PM on July 15, 2004

Also, Gore seemed to have been working his entire life towards running for president. When he won/lost verses Bush, the closest shot he could get, I think he was relieved that it was over, that he could move on to other things. If you look at pictures from back then, he seemed so much happier after the whole affair was done, like then he could truly act like himself.
posted by drezdn at 10:51 PM on July 15, 2004

Though you seem to have accepted the answers given, dobbs, I'll throw in some technical points, just to run the thread into the ground.

Gore could, conceivably still, show up at the Democratic National Convention in a few weeks, and ask for the nomination. There have been, in the past, conventions where an unpopular likely nominee was trumped by a dark horse; the phrase smoke-filled room describes one such incident. It was true in the past that the conventions were contested, but in the postwar period this has only been done by candidates who had proven themselves at the polls. It was the classic strategy of the late-entrant candidate, such as Bobby Kennedy, who was hoping to emerge during balloting despite having delegates from only a few big states such as California.

The political convention has become a different animal, however, in the modern era. In the 1970s the Democrats changed the rules, worrying about just such insurgent candidacies, without party-leader influence; by the mid-80s rules such as the superdelegates eliminated the practical chance that anyone who didn't get out there early, win a large number of key primaries, and wrap up long lists of pledged delegates, could ever win the nomination. At the same time, the treatment of the conventions as theatre-piece coronations for television has made any semblance of serious dissent during the voting anathema. Neither party, today, would permit such a thing.

So Gore doesn't have a ghost of a chance to steal the party nomination from Kerry.

What about just showing up and running as himself, you say? Well, independents under the US two-party system have a much more difficult time getting anywhere for a variety of reasons. The most important to your question is that states need to set their election documents in place weeks, or even months, in advance. (And yes, the balloting is by state -- see college, electoral -- and subject to slightly different rules everywhere in the country.) Ralph Nader is attempting to get on the November ballot in as many states as possible by getting nominations or endorsements from a mish-mash of political parties. (Interestingly, the nominating party is constitutionally practically irrelevant.) Conceivably, if he started now, there would be states which would permit Gore to get on the ballot -- but fewer every day, and once the deadlines are past, they are past. The only other option would be as a write-in.
posted by dhartung at 11:53 PM on July 15, 2004

Hence... shoo-in

The other way to look at it is that he was handed prime circumstances to win the election, with an economy that was still sound, a bubble that hadn't yet burst, and people talking yet again about the End of History and the vigorous growth of democracy around the world.

And yet he succeeded in running a sufficiently bad campaign to turn what should have been more-or-less a cakewalk into the squeaker that it was.

Why would they want him back, to run another presumably bad campaign from a starting position that's not nearly as favorable?

(and Gore's public persona at least is even more boring than Kerry's, but not so boring as, say, John Major)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:50 AM on July 16, 2004

once the deadlines are past, they are past

Unless you're Republicans, and schedule your convention after the deadlines of some states. Then they'll happily amend their election laws to change the deadlines.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:15 AM on July 16, 2004

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