Al Gore and American Democracy

Recently, Al Gore has published an article about Global Warming and American Democracy or Corporatocracy . His article has many good points and is really informative. It can show us the real problems of the American Democracy; the problems of the ill health of American Democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason ; The problems that are very serious. The article becomes more interesting when you know that the author is a part of the political system, a former vice president, a very controversial presidential candidate, a member of Congress, etc. Here are excerpts of Al Gore’s article:

“In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues. The referee in this analogy, “wrestling ring”, is the news media … the referee appears not to notice that the Polluters and Ideologues are trampling all over the “rules” of democratic discourse. They are financing pseudoscientists whose job is to manufacture doubt about what is true and what is false [like Iran !!]; buying elected officials wholesale with bribes that the politicians themselves have made “legal” and can now be made in secret; spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on misleading advertisements in the mass media; hiring four anti-climate lobbyists for every member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives … Yet most of the news media completely ignore how such events are connected to the climate crisis, or dismiss the connection as controversial; after all, there are scientists on one side of the debate and deniers on the other. A Fox News executive, in an internal e-mail to the network’s reporters and editors that later became public, questioned the “veracity of climate change data” and ordered the journalists to “refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.” … The “wrestling ring” in this metaphor is the conversation of democracy … In the America of the late-18th century, the conversation that led to our own “Spring” took place in printed words: pamphlets, newsprint, books, the “Republic of Letters.” … Thomas Paine, to take one example, emigrated from England to Philadelphia with no wealth, no family connections and no power other than that which came from his ability to think and write clearly -yet his Common Sense became the Harry Potter of Revolutionary America … Now the average American, is watching television an astonishing five hours a day. In the average household, at least one television set is turned on more than eight hours a day [ like Iran !!]. Moreover, approximately 75 percent of those using the Internet frequently watch television at the same time that they are online … “Citizens” are now referred to more commonly as “consumers” or “the audience.” That is why up to 80 percent of the campaign budgets for candidates in both major political parties is devoted to the purchase of 30-second TV ads .

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“Since the rates charged for these commercials increase each year, the candidates are forced to raise more and more money in each two-year campaign cycle … special-interest contributors of the large sums of money now required for the privilege of addressing voters on a wholesale basis are not squeamish about asking for the quo they expect in return for their quid. Politicians who don’t acquiesce don’t get the money they need to be elected and re-elected … It is now commonplace for congressmen and senators first elected decades ago – as I was- to comment in private that the whole process has become unbelievably crass, degrading and horribly destructive to the core values of American democracy … Largely as a result, the concerns of the wealthiest individuals and corporations routinely trump the concerns of average Americans and small businesses … Nowadays, in fact, the scheduling of many special-interest fundraisers mirrors the schedule of votes pending in the House and Senate … In the same way, because the banks had their way with Congress when it came to gambling on unregulated derivatives and recklessly endangering credit markets with subprime mortgages, we still have almost double-digit unemployment, historic deficits, Greece and possibly other European countries teetering on the edge of default, and the threat of a double-dip recession. Even the potential default of the US is now being treated by many politicians and too many in the media as yet another phony wrestling match, a political game. Are the potential economic consequences of a U.S. default “real”? Of course they are! Have we gone completely nuts? … We are now routinely making really bad decisions that completely ignore the best available evidence of what is true and what is false. When the distinction between truth and falsehood is systematically attacked without shame or consequence – when a great nation makes crucially important decisions on the basis of completely false information that is no longer adequately filtered through the fact-checking function of a healthy and honest public discussion – the public interest is severely damaged

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“The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is “the power to persuade.” Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. … The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations … The demand by individuals for change in the marketplace has already led many businesses to take truly significant steps to reduce their global-warming pollution …don’t give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don’t have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. President Franklin Roosevelt once told civil rights leaders who were pressing him for change that he agreed with them about the need for greater equality for black Americans. Then, as the story goes, he added with a wry smile, “Now go out and make me do it.” … Why do you think President Obama and Congress changed their game on “don’t ask, don’t tell?” It happened because enough Americans delivered exactly that tough message to candidates who wanted their votes . When enough people care passionately enough to drive that message home on the climate crisis, politicians will look at their hole cards, and enough of them will change their game to make all the difference we need … As the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass once observed, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.” … That is why the Constitution affords such unique protection to freedom of the press and of speech … The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America. It is about whether or not we are still capable -given the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason – of perceiving important and complex realities clearly enough to promote and protect the sustainable well-being of the many. What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.

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Al Gore critique of the current US electoral system and the American democracy is very important. In fact, he talked about the global issues, the problem: “the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason ” and the solution: “When enough people care passionately enough to drive that message home, politicians will look at their hole cards, and enough of them will change their game to make all the difference”. When Gore quotes from Frederick Douglass, it’s really meaningful and important. Frederick Douglass, 1817?-1895, an escaped slave, campaigned for the end of slavery and for the civil rights of free blacks. Howard Zinn said: “Frederick Douglass, a slave, sent to Baltimore to work as a servant … somehow learned to read and write, and in 1838, escaped to the North, where he became the most famous black man of his time, as lecturer, newspaper editor, writer. In his autobiography, he recalled his first childhood thoughts about his condition: Why am I a slave? Why are some people slaves, and others masters? Was there ever a time when this was not so? … Douglass spoke in 1857: Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions have been born of struggle … If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will ” So, when Al Gore quoted form Frederick Douglass, who was a revolutionary, it’s very meaningful. Some American comments about Al Gore’s article are interesting: “Gore is right: The political system is broken and it is up to us to get out there and put things right. Politicians have to be pressurized otherwise they will do nothing to tackle the biggest threat, not just to civilization, but to life itself. … our system gives way too much power to the rich over the rest … If Al Gore believed in climate change he would have done something about it while he was in GOVERNMENT and in POWER, not now that he’s invested in private corporations that stand to make billions … I will continue fighting for the environment, but don’t expect me to rally behind Al Gore. He’s far too dubious to be trusted … Al Gore was Vice President for 8 years. Why didn’t he do anything THEN ? We are supposed to listen to him now, that he’s in the private sector heavily invested in green technology poised to make a HUGE profit if Green technology takes off … The even sadder truth is that most people don’t want to think. They want to be comfortable. They want to forget about everything … Without that mass movement applying pressure, it seems unlikely politicians will ever summon the courage to act until the worst impacts of Capitalism, Global warming, dictatorship and tyranny, etc are upon us. “

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