Al Gore: The Assault on Reason
By bblfish on Jun 03, 2007
A little tired yesterday, I walked into a bookshop on University Avenue in Palo Alto, looking for something to change my mind. I picked up Al Gore's new book "The Assault on Reason", and started reading it. Less than 24 hours later, I am in San Francisco, and have just finished it. It's a good read, covers very important issues of democracy, focusing mostly on US history, the balance of powers, and the danger of ignoring these checks and balances that the founding fathers put in place. Executive power of course is always looking to speed up its ability to act, and finds the restrictions put on it by the legislative and the juridical a bothersome constraint. In the name of speed of action the executive will have a tendency to want to pull as much power towards itself. Doing that of course it risks detaching itself from reason, and committing grave mistakes, which does seem indeed to be what has befallen the current administration in a number of times in very serious ways, the details of which Gore draws out clearly.
The average American still spends 4 hours a day in front of a television. TV is the ultimate one way communication medium. Programs are broadcast to a wide audience, who have the choice (more now it is true) to switch to another channel. Switching channel won't give them a voice though, or enable to participate in the forming of the message. Similarly politicians are forced to spend huge amount of money for 30 second commercials to air their views, which removes them from the public floor of detailed debate of issues and forces them instead on the road of collecting money from special interests. As a result the public debate is impoverished in each citizen's house and in the houses of congress. The public appears to be much dumber than it is, which fosters a cynical view of the country by its leaders.