I’ve often remarked that America feels like an “alternate universe” to me. Interestingly, former VP and the winner of the 2000 election, Al Gore, mentioned that very phrase in a speech he gave on Wednesday.
Gore has become an intriguing figure and member of the elite landscape, albeit, offering an alternate viewpoint than the current wisdom in vogue. While I don’t intend to lionize him, he’s given some extremely provocative and dead-on speeches over the past year or two. I’m not sure why he didn’t fare better in his run for president in 2000? I mean, he did actually win, but my point is, why did someone with his obvious intelligence end up in a photo finish race with El Dumbo? Then again, we are living in a time when intelligence and analysis are liabilities, rather than assets. Hence, his great oratory and keen analysis are ignored by our friends in the MSM.
Not surprisingly, Americans, like the citizens of Rome, have given themselves over to “bread and circuses,” i.e. the pursuit of the trivial and mindless self-gratification. As Gore notes in his speech, our democracy is now threatened by the general ill-informed citizenry that now constitutes our nation. Gore speaks directly to the role that media plays in this dumbing down of understanding.
“Among the other factors damaging our public discourse in the media, the imposition by management of entertainment values on the journalism profession has resulted in scandals, fabricated sources, fictional events and the tabloidization of mainstream news. As recently stated by Dan Rather - who was, of course, forced out of his anchor job after angering the White House - television news has been 'dumbed down and tarted up.'
The coverage of political campaigns focuses on the "horse race" and little else. And the well-known axiom that guides most local television news is "if it bleeds, it leads." (To which some disheartened journalists add, "If it thinks, it stinks.")”
As a reader of history, there is a certain sense of déjà vu that occupies my thinking, observing the American experiment increasingly resembling that of the Roman Empire, as it began to unravel and eventually implode.
As Juvenal, the Roman satirist noted, the empire’s glory days were behind, as his fellow citizens had become so preoccupied with entertainment and personal pleasures that they no longer cared about the great civic virtues of the past. They were content, as his famous phrase that we refer to states, with “bread and circuses” and blindly following the weakened succession of civil authority. How is that any different from where we find ourselves in our time?
Gore’s speech is worth reading in its entirety. Rarely, does one hear a leader and someone from the ruling class speak with clarity and truth any longer. Gore, for whatever reason (maybe he actually cares about the future of our nation), has seen fit to speak some truth to those in power—hopefully someone is still listening.