Vox’s Ezra Klein: ‘Al Gore Should Run For President’ to Combat the ‘Existential Threat’ of Climate Change

Many Democrats would like to see a first-tier figure challenge Hillary Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination. Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein agrees, but his choice isn’t Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O’Malley. On Monday, Klein sent up a trial balloon emblazoned with the name of Al Gore.

As Klein sees it, reducing the “existential threat” of climate change should be the main theme of a Gore candidacy, though he admitted that the issue might end up costing Gore votes. That said, it’s a risk that could pay off big if Gore’s elected, since “climate change is an issue where the president has real unilateral authority.”

In any event, funding the campaign wouldn’t seem problematic. Klein noted that Gore himself now is “fabulously wealthy — richer, even, than Mitt Romney” and added, given super-rich environmentalists’ esteem for the star of An Inconvenient Truth, that “it's easy to imagine, say, billionaire Tom Steyer gathering some friends and putting some massive superPAC money behind Gore.”

From Klein’s piece (bolding added):

Democrats need a debate about where their party goes next. Obamacare's passage marked the rough completion of the social safety net that liberals began constructing during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency. The end of the Iraq War drained Democrats of their foreign policy fervor. The rapid acceptance of gay marriage has robbed them of the next civil rights fight…

The closest thing Democrats have to an organizing concern is income inequality. But their solutions are neither sufficient to the scale of the problem nor quickening to the pulse…

To many Democrats, the fight the party needs is clear: Hillary Clinton vs. Elizabeth Warren…Warren goes a bit further than Clinton does, both in rhetoric and policy, but…there is little reason to believe there would be much difference between a Warren presidency and a Clinton one.

The most ambitious vision for the Democratic Party right now rests with…Al Gore.

Gore offers a genuinely different view of what the Democratic Party — and, by extension, American politics — should be about…

Income inequality is a serious problem. But climate change is an existential threat…

…[C]limate change is an issue where the president has real unilateral authority. The Environmental Protection Agency has the power to aggressively regulate greenhouse gas emissions…Much of the crucial work on climate change requires coming to agreements with India and China — and that, too, is an arena where the president can act even if Congress is paralyzed.

…[T]he rest of [Gore’s] positions are closer in line with Democratic Party activists than, say, Clinton's. He opposed the Iraq War and endorsed single-payer health care, for instance...

…[Clinton’s] likely challengers don't have the name recognition, party support, campaign organization, or funding necessary to force a real contest.

Gore does...

But Gore's experience and contacts now reach beyond politics...[He’s become] fabulously wealthy — richer, even, than Mitt Romney — as an investor and mogul. And then there's his centrality in the environmental community which is, itself, quite rich — it's easy to imagine, say, billionaire Tom Steyer gathering some friends and putting some massive superPAC money behind Gore.

…[Gore] can be a wooden candidate. His relationship with the press is challenging, to say the least. He is an aging politician in a country that loves new faces. His finances are complicated…His divorce from Tipper Gore means his personal life isn't the storybook it once was. He is loathed by conservatives…

But is that really so different than the list of drawbacks to a Clinton candidacy?

…I don't think it particularly likely that, even if he did run for president, he would win. Climate change is a threat, but I am far from convinced that doing anything about it makes for good politics.

But as bad as the odds are if a candidate does try to run for president with climate change at the center of his campaign, they're much worse if the major candidates from both parties largely ignore the issue.

Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Environment Global Warming Liberals & Democrats Vox Ezra Klein Al Gore Hillary Clinton


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