Al Gore: The Assault on Reason, Part 1

May 25, 2007 at 11:55 am | Posted in Al Gore, America, Bush, conservatism, culture, democracy, Democrats, economy, government, politics, religion, Republicans, society | Leave a comment

Check out this book excerpt from Time here…

I’m not an Al Gore “fan-boy” by any stretch of the imagination, and I still have mixed feelings about the sensationalist overtone of his movie An Inconvenient Truth. But this book excerpt I ran across on Time.com has piqued my curiosity. In these few pages he demonstrates some amazing insights that I think are worth discussing. I’ve extracted quite a few quotes that I am going to discuss over the next few days. Here’s the first one; feel free to chime in and share your thoughts.

“Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions?”

The answer here is simple. Faith, religion, and money. That’s it! At least, that’s what I see.

Faith and religion in most cases force one to suppress their own reason and logic in order to accept what their mind quite naturally doesn’t want to. To put it bluntly, America is no better than “Islamic extremists” when it comes to letting religion infiltrate the body politic. Richard Dawkins discusses this some in his book The God Delusion, but perhaps one can find appropriate advice from the likes of Thomas Jefferson.

“I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies, that the General Government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them, an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises and the objects proper for them according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands where the Constitution has deposited it… Everyone must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.” –Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, 1808. ME 11:429¹

But religion aside, what else has removed reason, logic, and truth from national debate? Is it the dominant two-party system that we have all grown accustomed to? I am in the middle of reading Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope and he discusses to some degree how tough decisions are made on various pieces of legislation. Here’s what he has to say:

“I don’t know a single legislator who doesn’t anguish on a regular basis over the votes he or she has to take. There are times when one feels a piece of legislation to be so obviously right that it merits little internal debate (John McCain’s amendment prohibiting torture by the U.S. government comes to mind). At other times, a bill appears on the floor that’s so blatantly one-sided or poorly designed that one wonders how the sponsor can maintain a straight face during debate. But most of the time, legislation is a murky brew, the product of one hundred compromises large and small, a blend of legitimate policy aims, political grandstanding, jerry-rigged regulatory schemes, and old-fashioned pork barrels.” (129)

So it begs the questions, why does legislation become so “murky”? Why can’t the decisions that America makes be simple and to the point? Why does there have to be earmarks for this and addendums for that? Why should our elected officials have to make decisions based on what does the least harm?

Again, to me, the answer is simple. My viewpoints on finance and the economy are certainly more Republican than they are Democrat, but my personal viewpoints on money aside, I think there is too much of it in politics and government. Apart from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, not too many of us could afford (out of our own pocket) to run for an office other than are local city council or mayor. Success in politics today requires disgusting amounts of money in order to have any chance of your name even being recognized by a substantial portion of the American citizenry. As we can already see with the 2008 Presidential “race”, appalling amounts of money are “required” to even have a stab at being the next U.S. Commander in Chief. So what happens when presidential and other government elections are fought and won based on who can buy the most votes? You get morons like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in office.

What would our government look like, if anyone could successfully run for office and be elected solely on their leadership and ideas? I think it would look a hell of a lot different.

To answer Al Gore’s question (even though he answers it himself), the reason America fails to use reason, logic, and truth in making decisions is because our government is broken. I alone don’t hold this viewpoint – in fact he even acknowledges my opinion: “Many young Americans now seem to feel that the jury is out on whether American democracy actually works or not.” He’s right, the jury is out for me. I think in principle the American democracy should work, but in practice we have made a laughing stock of what America’s founding father’s originally intended. Sure a lot has changed since then, but in principal democracy should work. America will return to reason, logic, and truth when everyone can properly distinguish between enterprise and capitalism, religion, and government. All three have their place, no matter your opinion – but they should exist separate and parallel, not together and intermingled so much so that bad decisions are made in order to make good ones.

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