Text of the eloquent yet succinct speech delivered by Al Gore, recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and former VP and U.S. Senator, on August 28, 2008 at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
WILL WE SEIZE THIS OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE?
One of the greatest gifts of our democracy is the opportunity it offers us every four years to change course.
It's not a guarantee; it's only an opportunity.
The question facing us, simply put, is will we seize this opportunity for change?
That's why I came here tonight: to tell you why I feel so strongly that we must seize this opportunity to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America.
Eight years ago, some said there was not much difference between the nominees of the two major parties and it didn't really matter who became president. Our nation was enjoying peace and prosperity, and some assumed we would continue both, no matter the outcome.
But here we all are in 2008, and I doubt anyone would argue now that election didn't matter.
Take it from me, if it had ended differently:
- We would not be bogged down in Iraq;
- We would have pursued bin Laden until we captured him;
- We would not be facing a self-inflicted economic crisis; we would be fighting for middle income families.
- We would not be showing contempt for the Constitution; we'd be protecting the rights of every American regardless of race, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.
- And we would not be denying the climate crisis; we'd be solving it.
Today, we face essentially the same choice we faced in 2000, though it may be even more obvious now, because John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them, the same policies all over again.
Hey, I believe in recycling, but that's ridiculous.
With John McCain's support, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have led our nation into one calamity after another because of their indifference to fact; their readiness to sacrifice the long-term to the short-term, subordinate the general good to the benefit of the few and short-circuit the rule of law.
Bush, Cheney and McCain
If you like the Bush/Cheney approach, John McCain's your man.
If you believe it's time for a change, then vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Barack Obama is telling us exactly what he will do:
- Launch a bold new economic plan to restore America's greatness.
- Fight for smarter government that trusts the market but protects us against its excesses.
- Enact policies that are pro-choice, pro-education and pro-family.
- Establish a foreign policy that is smart as well as strong. Provide health care for all and solutions for the climate crisis.
Well, I know something about close elections, so let me offer you my opinion.
I believe this election is close today mainly because the forces of the status quo are desperately afraid of the change Barack Obama represents.
There is no better example than the climate crisis. As I have said for many years throughout this land, we're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the future of human civilization. Every bit of that has to change.
McCain Forced to Abandon Global Warming Fight
Oil company profits, as you know, have soared to record levels, and gasoline prices have gone through the roof, and we are more dependent than ever on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels.
Many scientists predict -- shockingly -- that the entire North Polar ice cap may be completely gone during summer months during the first term of the next president. Sea levels are rising; fires are raging; storms are stronger.
Military experts warn us our national security is threatened by massive waves of climate refugees destabilizing countries around the world, and scientists tell us the very web of life is endangered by unprecedented extinctions.
We are facing a planetary emergency, which, if not solved, would exceed anything we've ever experienced in the history of humankind.
In spite of John McCain's past record of open-mindedness and leadership on the climate crisis, he has now apparently allowed his party to browbeat him into abandoning his support of mandatory caps on global warming pollution.
Climate Crisis Key to Economy, National Security
And it just so happens that the climate crisis is intertwined with the other two great challenges facing our nation: reviving our economy and strengthening our national security. The solutions to all three require us to end our dependence on carbon-based fuels.
Instead of letting lobbyists and polluters control our destiny, we need to invest in American innovation.
Almost a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison, our most famous inventor, said, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!" he continued. "I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."
Oil Industry Controls the Republican Party
Well, now, in 2008, we already have everything we need to use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis -- everything, that is, except a president in the White House who inspires us to believe, "Yes, we can." But we know how to fix that.
So how did this no-brainer become a brain-twister?
Because the carbon fuels industry -- big oil and coal -- have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party, and they are drilling it for everything it's worth.
And this same industry has spent a half a billion dollars this year alone trying to convince the public they are actually solving the problem, when they are, in fact, making it worse every single day.