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Hell Must Be Building an Ice Rink

May 17, 2007

I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but after reading this excerpt from his new book, The Assault on Reason, I must admit I would strongly consider voting for Al Gore were he to run for president in 2008.

Money quote:


In the world of television, the massive flows of information are
largely in only one direction, which makes it virtually impossible for
individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation.
Individuals receive, but they cannot send. They hear, but they do not
speak. The "well-informed citizenry" is in danger of becoming the
"well-amused audience." Moreover, the high capital investment required
for the ownership and operation of a television station and the
centralized nature of broadcast, cable and satellite networks have led
to the increasing concentration of ownership by an ever smaller number
of larger corporations that now effectively control the majority of
television programming in America.

In practice, what television’s dominance has come to mean is
that the inherent value of political propositions put forward by
candidates is now largely irrelevant compared with the image-based ad
campaigns they use to shape the perceptions of voters. The high cost of
these commercials has radically increased the role of money in
politics—and the influence of those who contribute it. That is why
campaign finance reform, however well drafted, often misses the main
point: so long as the dominant means of engaging in political dialogue
is through purchasing expensive television advertising, money will
continue in one way or another to dominate American politics. And as a
result, ideas will continue to play a diminished role. That is also why
the House and Senate campaign committees in both parties now search for
candidates who are multimillionaires and can buy the ads with their own
personal resources.

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