Looking For A Leader

I wrote a post several weeks ago after reading a NY Times article about the Democratic party’s search for a "vision". I shared it with The Gotham Gal and a few friends. They all liked it. But by the time I had gotten their feedback, I didn’t like it enough to post it. Funny how that happens. Blogging for me requires an immediate "submit". When I think about something too much, it never gets on the web.

Last night, along with the rest of the attendees of the D conference, I saw Al Gore interviewed by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. It was the highlight of the conference for me and I suspect for many of the attendees. We saw Al Gore speak passionately about his beliefs and the issues facing our country in a moment of crisis (which he defined as when a grave problem meets a big opportunity).  After sleeping on his remarks, I want to hit the submit button on the post I wrote. Here’s the opening paragraphs of that post:

Leadership requires vision. We want to know where our leader is going to take us. It needs to be articulated clearly, concisely, and without qualification.

I have spent 20 years of my life watching some amazing leaders operate and I have been sold time and time again by a big vision that I couldn’t wait to be part of.

It’s time for my party, the Democratic Party, to articulate its big vision.

There has been a suggestion that the Democratic Party needs to appeal for shared sacrifice and the "common good". That’s all fine with me, but I want something more. I want a willigness to move our country forward, to embrace technology and all that it brings us. To stare down the risks we are facing and deal with their root causes. To recognize that our political system is corrupt and needs fundamental change.

I heard all of that and more from Al Gore last night. He sure sounded like he’s a candidate in 2008.

The Gotham Gal and I raised money for Gore in 2000. We felt the searing pain of his loss. But we also felt, like most Democrats, that he was a terrible candidate and I have personally avoided thinking much about Al Gore in the past 6 years.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about Al Gore in the past month.I believe that he ran in 2000 because he was supposed to. He was groomed his entire life to be President. But when it came time for him to run, he didn’t really have a "reason to be President" other than the empty wall on his father’s home where the pictures of his presidency were supposed to go. That wall is still empty, at least metaphorically.

But the Al Gore I saw last night knows why he must run in 2008. He wants to provide the political leadership that will allow us to deal with the looming ecological crisis. He wants to lead our country, and hopefully the rest of the world, toward a sustainable energy policy. He wants to embrace the power of technology to inform, educate, and provide a platform for political discourse and reason all over the world. He wants to face down the financial corruption of our politcal system. He wants to face down the scourges of terror, genocide, AIDS and other pandemics running rampant in our world. These are the things he cares about. These are the battles he wants to fight.

Al Gore talked last night about where all the Senators were when Robert Byrd spoke to an empty Senate chamber on the eve of the vote to back Bush’s war in Iraq.  He said they were at cocktail parties all over the country raising money so they can run 30 second spots defending the votes they made.

Al Gore isn’t good at that part of the political process. I know. I’ve raised money for him and he doesn’t know who I am. When I shook his hand last night, that was crystal clear. He’s not the face to face politician that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are.

And maybe that wil get in the way of him running again. The biggest thing that Al Gore has added to his public persona since 2000 is a self awareness and a self deprecating style. He said last night that, "I am not particularly good at politics". And "I don’t like much about politics".

But as Al Gore ended his interview last night with a passioned fiery challenge to everyone in the room, my friend Howard turned to me and said "he’s running". I sure hope so. Because I am looking for a leader with a vision and Al Gore has it in spades now.