In the last year, Al Gore won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental justice work. Are we better off that he lost the presidency?
After serving one term as president, Jimmy Carter set across the globe creating peaceful solutions to international conflicts, from Haiti to North Korea, and promoting economic and social development in the U.S. and abroad. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
Many point out that both men have affected greater change out of office than when they were positioned at the height of power within the world of electoral politics. Countless individuals committed to making the world a better place have chosen the path of electoral politics. However, to what degree can a politican create social change? How have Gore’s and Carter’s ability to influence public opinion and policy changed because they are no longer in office?
Is electoral politics the best way to advocate a message? To what extent are politicians constrained by their office? How do the power and constraints of a politician compare to that of populist leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Pat Robinson, and Gloria Steinem or to public intellectuals like Naomi Wolf, Cornell West, and William F. Buckley, Jr.? To what degree should community organizers or intellectuals engage in electoral politics to achieve social change? Where do personal action, community organizing, and electoral politics intersect? What are the strengths and limitations of each?
- The Dynamic Post-Presidential Duo
- Al Gore’s Nobel peace prize is a rebuke for the President, claim Democrats
- Al Gore’s Peace Prize
- Role of the Intellectuals in social change
- Democrats and the myth of lesser evilism
Bill Ayers is a school reform activist and Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is founder of the Center for Youth and Society and founder and co-director of the Small Schools Workshop. He has written extensively about social justice, democracy, and education. His most recent book, Fugitive Days, is a memoir that chronicles the anti-war movement of the 60s.
For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.