Wednesday, October 05, 2005

When you're right...

These are paraphases from a talk by Al Gore
  1. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. Something has gone badly wrong in the way america's fabled marketplace of ideas is now functioning. "Serial obsessions" take over our airwaves for weeks at a time.
  2. If the rich-poor gap is widening why is our apathy as citizens also widening?
  3. The Senate was silent on the eve of war with Iraq because what people say on the Senate floor no longer counts - all were out fundraising to pay for tv commercials
The problem with #1 is that it's not entirely clear that the "marketplace of ideas" was ever an undistorted civil discourse. OK, I agree that corporatization and homogenization have gone too far, but there's also a great diversity of free media and new technologies that are radically altering the landscape. Also, he means "obsessions with events that don't matter much": actually, it'd be a great thing if there was extended debate about global warming, conservation, rights v. responsibilities, freedom v. security, Military v. developmental imperialism, etc.... #2 is true only if measured in votes. If measured in political activism, discourse, money, people are about as active, I think, as they have ever been. But voting matters, so it's worth talking about. #3 is just plain ordinary sense.

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