The main thesis of Assault is that our democracy is in a steep decline because as a society, we have lost our ability to engage in a public discussion about the direction our country is taking. The main culprit is television, according to Gore, which I completely agree with. Television is a very passive medium from which to gain information about the world. It is also the main source of news information for Americans, with its ubiquity and ease of use. There are no special skills necessary for watching television; in fact, children are taught from birth how to “use” the television for person enrichment and entertainment. Gore states that, because watching television is a passive activity and one which the watcher cannot easily debate with (with an audience, at least) that our democracy is suffering. People are no longer engaging in political debate, and the days of town hall meetings and letters to the editor are considered quaint by those shaping policy. Gore considers the
As I stated before, I agree with this, but I also think that Gore could have gone a bit deeper. His main thesis that atrocious things are happening in
The result of this is that the large media outlets (television, radio, and newspapers) usually only focus on extreme opinions because they are sexier. We hear a lot about anti-choice groups and their shenanigans, but we rarely hear from folks who are more mainstream. We hear a lot about the anti-capitalist “freegans” but rarely hear from people trying to live a realistic but sustainable life. We are left with the impression that our neighbors hold extreme opinions because of the bumper stickers on their car.
An interesting phenomenon has been in the works with blogging, though. People are finding ways to become active again by connecting with others around the country and creating real movements. Disregarding my lack of enthusiasm for the nuclear family (anyone who knows me knows that I hate living so far away from my family and that I’m making progress to get back to them) I think that virtual relationships are our salvation for this political crisis. Gore mentions this only in passing in Assault, but I think as relationships evolve, we should pay more attention.UPDATE: Amanda has chosen Assault for the next Pandagon Book Club selection. You can also buy the book there.