I’ve been listening to the unabridged audiobook version of Al Gore’s latest book The Assault on Reason, and it is chilling in its dissection of how our country’s democracy has been dismantled by six years of the Bush-Cheney administration. What Gore writes has been written by others in a variety of other venues; however, he has laid it all out in a logical sequence: the power of television to influence ignorant Americans; Bush-Cheney’s belief in the “unitary executive” (a right-wing political philosophy that believes that the Executive Branch of American government is and should be stronger than the Legislative and Judicial branches, and that efforts must be taken to strengthen that superiority in power); the lies that led to the Iraq war; the squandering of the world’s good will after 9/11/2001 with an unprecedented power grab all leading to an unnecessary war. The list of offenses goes on and on. As I read the book, I keep wondering how so much time was spent on impeaching President Clinton over an extramarital affair, when Bush has been caught time and again lying to the American public and breaking laws that the Congress has passed. (The unauthorized wiretapping of American citizens’ telephone calls without warrant is one vivid example.) These, I believe, are impeachable offenses.
The unfortunate fact, however, is that Gore’s book will be read by a relative few of the American populace, and of those few, almost entirely by those who are already convinced of his arguments. It reads like the political platform and exegesis of a man ready to enter the presidential race, although Gore continues to deny that he is running.
Maybe he needs to do for American democracy what he has done for climate change: a broad-based public series of lectures or slide shows about how American government works. Maybe we need a distinguished statesman-teacher to gives us an ongoing civics lesson, to teach us again the meaning of true political discourse in which reason plays a greater role than the barrage of thirty-second special interest television commercials.