If Al Gore Wins the Nobel Peace Prize

It is possible that in a few short weeks America will wake up to news from Europe that Al Gore has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

If this occurs, it will be a powerful transforming event in American politics that will bring a surge of patriotism and pride to a nation that has been torn by war, divided by partisanship, trapped in a quagmire and alienated from what Jefferson called the decent opinion of mankind.

Let's set aside for now the question of whether Al Gore runs for president — which is unlikely, though world events can change our politics in a heartbeat.

The more important matter is what happens to our national dialogue and our democracy if indeed the Nobel Prize is awarded to Gore.

From the moment his award is announced through his speech in December accepting the prize, Al Gore will be the most influential living American in defining the terms of our national debate.

From the immediate surge of media attention until the aftermath of Gore's acceptance speech there will be a profound surge of international and national attention to what Al Gore stands for, and what he has done.

For the first time since Sept. 11, 2001 was hijacked as a pretext for the Iraq war, there will be a powerful, compelling and global discussion of the America that has been and should always be a genuine beacon of hope and light for the world.

At first there will be saturation coverage of the dangers to Planet Earth, the crisis that poses the ultimate danger comparable to, and possibly even surpassing, the threat of nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

There will be a national and global debate, led by Gore, about the "war of the worlds" between the corrupt and destructive oil-based energy that creates pressures for war and dangers for the earth, against the new-energy economy that would benefit citizens, consumers and the planet itself.

Within hours of the Nobel announcement there would be a global statement of American ideals, American values, American traditions and American notions that have been honored for more than 200 years, and placed under attack by George W. Bush and enabled by a submissive Congress unable and unwilling to stop him.

There would be a statement to Americans, and to the world, that the real America is the nation that respects and rallies the free nations of the world rather than the pre-emptive and arrogant power that alienates freedom's best friends everywhere.

There would be a statement to Americans, and to the world, that we are the nation that agrees with George Washington and believes torture is a crime unworthy of our society, and agrees with generations of military commanders and troops who believe that the Geneva Convention is right, good and noble and serves the safety of our troops while standing for the values of our country.

There would be a statement to Americans, and to the world, that we are a nation and a people that believe in the sacred trust embodied by our Constitution, in the 200-year legacy of the rule of law, where the king is not the law, but the law is the king.

There would be a statement to Americans, and to the world, that we are indeed the leader of the free world, the champion in the battle of ideas, the aspirational hope of good people everywhere that is the friend of those who dream, the ally of those who hope, the partner of those who seek to build a better world and that the arrogance and corruption of recent years is not the real America.

What will happen, if Al Gore is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is that his issues will be championed on the front pages and on the television screens, stronger than ever, across America and throughout the world.

If Gore chooses to run for president he will have an opportunity to mobilize the nation in a manner similar to Robert Kennedy's late entry in 1968.

More likely, if Gore does not run, his issues will be championed stronger than ever by candidate Clinton, candidate Obama, candidate Edwards, candidate Richardson and the others and will be acted upon, with greater commitment, by President Clinton, President Obama, President Edwards, President Richardson or whoever is elected.

The Democrats will be stronger candidates; the next president will be a stronger president; the American people will feel a resurgence of the patriotism and pride when people around the world once again applaud an American leader who speaks for the authentic voice of America as world leader and beacon of hope.

The recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize cannot be predicted, but with the announcement to be made within a few short weeks, there is the real possibility of a transforming moment that will lift our spirits and our national debate at a time when Americans are cynical and distrustful of their politics and government.