A New Hampshire Write-In for Gore Can Win

Note: The following is an elaboration on an op-ed to be published in The Hill's edition of Tuesday, Oct. 16.


It is undoubtedly a long shot, but the voters of New Hampshire have a wonderful history of confounding the experts and changing the course of American history.

Dwight Eisenhower was enlisted in 1952 by voters in New Hampshire. Henry Cabot Lodge in 1964 won a pure New Hampshire write-in while serving as American ambassador to Vietnam, finishing ahead of Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller, who were both on the ballot.

In 1968 Eugene McCarthy stunned the world and began the tortured path out of Vietnam with a breathtaking triumph in New Hampshire, and in 2000, John McCain electrified the political world with a dramatic victory in the Granite State.

It has been done before; it can be done again.

The reason that New Hampshire is, and should always be, the first primary in the nation is that it represents the truest example of citizen democracy on the most important matter before American voters, the election of a president.

This will be truer in 2008 than ever before.

New Hampshire will be preceded by the Iowa caucus, a wonderful exercise in democracy, though with participation that will be limited to 10 to 15 percent of eligible Iowa Democrats.

The most important political day in 2008 will be Super Tuesday, which is a travesty of how a great nation should choose its leader, with its mass voting dominated by television ads and virtually no interaction between candidates and voters, compared to New Hampshire.

In New Hampshire there will be a true exercise of democracy, with thoughtful voters carefully considering the future of the nation, evaluating the candidates in a serious process that would make the Founding Fathers proud.

If the national Draft Gore movement and the significant, passionate and well-organized Gore supporters in New Hampshire roll the dice with a New Hampshire write-in campaign, the political dynamic creates a real opening for another New Hampshire stunner in 2008.

Here is why: From the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize award through Al Gore's acceptance speech in December, he will carry the mantle of world statesman and moral leader while the presidential candidates will campaign in a frenzy of low-concept politics, heaping negatives on each other.

It is this stark comparison, of the lowball politics of conventional politicians running against each other for president against the Nobel Laureate statesmanship and moral leadership leading into the most important speech of Al Gore's life, that just might appeal to the voters of New Hampshire if the believers of Gore make their stand in the Granite State.

Overwhelming numbers of New Hampshire Democrats and independents will be watching with admiration and pride as Al Gore addresses the world, accepts the Peace Prize, and issues his call to action.

In Oslo, Al Gore will speak the way presidents should speak; lead the way presidents should lead; conduct himself the way presidents should conduct themselves; and stand for the ideals that American presidents should stand for while addressing a world that wants to see America once again as a beacon of hope and light.

In one corner, the negative ads and campaign attacks that make Americans cynical about what our politics have become; in the other, the leader and the laureate speaking with conscience about saving the planet and building the peace.

What are the odds of New Hampshire firing the cannon that would be heard around the world and voting for Gore in a write-in shocker? Five percent? Ten? Who knows?

There are some things we do know.

First, don't believe a word the experts and pundits say. Remember what President Dean once said about President Muskie ...

Second, don't believe the polls; they are without any meaning or predictive value. In December of 2003 Howard Dean was the overwhelming favorite, Wes Clark was surging and Joe Lieberman was running strong while John Kerry was virtually tied with Al Sharpton and ridiculed by the pundit class.

The polls in October, November and December of 2003 were totally and completely wrong even as the voting was imminent. Those at the top collapsed, while the two finalists and nominees for president and vice president were near the bottom and taken seriously by virtually no one.

Finally, New Hampshirites do not take dictation from Washington insiders and do not follow orders from campaign managers, consultants or the media. They do not appreciate being told what to believe or being instructed about what they must inevitably do.

The voters of New Hampshire may or may not agree with the views expressed here, but anyone with experience in national politics knows that these voters take very seriously their role in choosing our president
and a have long history of confounding the experts, and bless them for it.

If the believers in Al Gore roll the dice and reach out to New Hampshire voters to make their stand in the Granite State, they will be campaigning against everything the American people dislike in our politics and championing a leader with an extraordinary body of work for a lifetime, at the very moment he addresses the world and accepts the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Don't bet the ranch, but it can be done.

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