I’ve seen speculation around the blogosphere this week that if Gore won the Nobel, it would be the perfect springboard for a new bid for the presidency. I think that’s more than a little naïve. There’s a strong streak in the American psyche, particularly but not exclusively among the right, of resistance to anything that could be construed as letting outsiders tell us what to do. If Gore announces his candidacy, you can bet that by lunchtime Bill O’Reilly and the rest will spin it as “Don’t let some Godless socialist tree-huggers in Norway decide who’s going to be your president.”
I personally think a little humility and willingness to admit that other people in the world might have something to teach us would go a long way toward making this country a healthier place. You’d think, for instance, that the pro-life movement in the U.S. would look at countries with dramatically lower abortion rates than ours and ask ourselves, “What are they doing right? What can we learn from them?” But you’ll never find an article on “Lessons from the Netherlands” in the National Right to Life News, nor an interview with Belgian public health officials in Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine. Granted, that’s mostly because solutions involving contraception and sex ed don’t fit in with the agenda of most pro-life groups — more’s the pity. (At first, I mistyped that as “more’s the piety”. That too.) But I think there may be an element of false patriotism at work as well. It’s hard for many Americans, and particularly for conservatives, to admit that there’s anything the U.S. isn’t the best at. I would think having an abortion rate 2 to 3 times that of many Western European countries would be a hint, though. We can learn from other countries, and it’s not anti-American to say so. It’s as pro-American as you can get, to want to make America a better place.