Fri, Oct 27, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: To serve for the greater good

"I am Al Gore and I used to be the next president of the United States of America." One gathers that this remark by former US vice president Al Gore has become his opening line everywhere he speaks, and he brings down the house when he pokes fun at himself.

In the US presidential election of 2000, Gore, who represented the Democratic Party, garnered more popular votes than Republican candidate George W. Bush, but eventually lost the election to Bush, who won the electoral college by a razor-thin margin.

If Gore had filed an appeal against the outcome of the election, he might have had a chance to turn the tables on Bush, but he chose not to, because he did not want to see a split nation. In the end, Gore conceded defeat because he looked to the overall picture instead of individual and partisan interests, thereby clearing the way for a Bush presidency. Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry made the same decision when faced with the disputed outcome of the 2004 election.

Unlike other former presidents or vice presidents, Gore has refrained from rushing to write a book about his years in the White House. Nor did he attempt to make money by giving speeches everywhere. After he was defeated in 2000, Gore taught in a number of universities in the US, wrote two books with his wife and launched a cable-TV station for young people. When New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, Gore and Paramount Pictures produced a documentary entitled An Inconvenient Truth, which later received much attention at the Cannes Film Festival.

Bush, who opposed the Kyoto Protocol, finally pledged that the US would make an effort to fight global climate change. Satellite images reveal, however, that the hole in the ozone layer over the Ant-arctic has now reached the size of North America. The dangers posed by global climate change and the hole in the ozone layer is not a problem for future generations, but for those of us living today.

Gore may have lost the election, but today he is more respected than Bush. He has appeared on the covers of such magazines as Vanity Fair, Wired and the liberal-leaning American Prospect, and has been selected as one of Time magazine's "100 people who shape our world." Even though the Democrats urged him to run in the 2004 election because of his prestige, he declined, saying that there are many ways to serve one's country and community that do not involve becoming an official.

If Gore were in Taiwan, he would certainly be seen as crazy. Because this country doesn't have a pluralistic value system, most people are only interested in a single value: politics. Successful business magnates and Nobel Prize-winning academics alike are all drawn into the political turmoil, expending all of society's energy in the strife. The recent anti-corruption campaign originally had a chance of becoming a civic movement for social reform, but politicians degraded it into a partisan squabble by focusing it into an attack on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Many Taiwanese politicians treat politics as a profession instead of a form of service. They remain under the illusion that leaving politics symbolizes failure, so they chase after any "employment opportunities" that will earn them power. Some people repeatedly campaign to ascend from the vice presidency to the presidency. Some who have failed to be elected president then campaign for the vice presidency, trying each lower rung of the ladder until they're reduced to scrambling for a mayoral bid. These are the kind of opportunists who degrade Taiwanese politics for their personal ambitions.

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