The 'Gore'y Details of Democracy.
I just read the most practical and well reasoned synopsis of our current state of affairs here in the US. Prepare for a long read, but it is absolutely amazing. Here are some of the most notable portions that caught my attention from this article.
On the eve of the nation's decision to invade Iraq, our longest serving senator, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, stood on the Senate floor asked: "Why is this chamber empty? Why are these halls silent?"
The decision that was then being considered by the Senate with virtually no meaningful debate turned out to be a fateful one. A few days ago, the former head of the National Security Agency, Retired Lt. General William Odom, said, "The invasion of Iraq, I believe, will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history."
But whether you agree with his assessment or not, Senator Byrd's question is like the others that I have just posed here: he was saying, in effect, this is strange, isn't it? Aren't we supposed to have full and vigorous debates about questions as important as the choice between war and peace?
Those of us who have served in the Senate and watched it change over time, could volunteer an answer to Senator Byrd's two questions: the Senate was silent on the eve of war because Senators don't feel that what they say on the floor of the Senate really matters that much any more. And the chamber was empty because the Senators were somewhere else: they were in fundraisers collecting money from special interests in order to buy 30-second TVcommercials for their next re-election campaign.
Interestingly enough, I myself have swayed away from the lure of the TV. I dare say any 'boob tube' I watch are movies that I've rented and the occasional Jim Lehrer News Hour/BBC. Gore goes on to describe the history and emancipation of ideas associated with democracy and movable type machines. How the national debate moved ideas around in print. However, the move to TV and Radio had been a mostly one sided conversation... a form of propaganda. A one sided conversation where you are told, take it or leave it. There are of course exceptions, such as talk radio with people calling in and such, hahum Air America :) and to be fair, Rush Limbaugh (that took a lot of courage to say :( ) .
People realized that they no longer had a voice in the matter and the 60's revolution took shape.
Soon after television established its dominance over print, young people who realized they were being shut out of the dialogue of democracy came up with a new form of expression in an effort to join the national conversation: the "demonstration." This new form of expression, which began in the 1960s, was essentially a poor quality theatrical production designed to capture the attention of the television cameras long enough to hold up a sign with a few printed words to convey, however plaintively, a message to the American people. Even this outlet is now rarely an avenue for expression on national television.
This, quite obviously, resonates true even today. We seem to be caught teetering on this balance even today. Just two weeks ago, ~1 million people marched around the world in rejection of the war in Iraq. Corporate media saw it as a blip on the news radar, they were written off as extremists, and crazies. For the people marching, however, it was they only thing they felt they had left to do was participate in solidarity for a common cause. Yes, of course there were "strange", a relative term, people marching and some even crazy (again relative.) But, they felt this was the only way to be heard. Well I heard them and it is a shame that the 'powers that be' didn't, atleast in part.
I do not have the perspective most 'older' Americans do as I've only grown up as a child to the baby boomers (not sure what generation title I carry.) However, this doesn't mean that I haven't already seen changes within the timeframe of my being aware and conscious of a "national consciousness."
I am trying to deny the urge to point out the ridiculousness of the current administration, but cannot resist.... Read Gores speech, after you are blown away, picture anything fractionally coherent coming from the vile lips of our current resident president.... Exactly my point. The just of a logical argument from this administration is. We must "A" because we are "A'ers," so just let us do our "A'ing." I've said this before, and actually saw it in a Daily Show skit too. Obviously, you can replace "A" with any verb, and it fits the anti-rhetorical pattern of any single Bush speech. Enough said.