Mr. Gore, I found your book to be surprisingly informative and revealing. To grossly over-simplify your premise, you make the point that the American people are no longer engaged with our government due to the lack of a two-way conversation, as was common place in our early history. You make the point that when the printed word was the main source of information and communication, that the American people had an opportunity to engage in a debate and to provide feedback through the written word. I agree that today the majority of Americans are not engaged and do not take the active role in our government the way our founding fathers intended. The checks and balances simply do not work if the American people are not heard - whether they choose to be silent or are forced into silence.
Leaping forward you make the point that the advent of radio and television destroyed the public's access to the debate and that they are only a one-way medium.
Our Founders could never have imagined that the marketplace of ideas would change so profoundly that the consent of the governed - the very source of legitimate political power in a democracy - could become a commodity.
You point out that individuals could receive information from radio and television but could not send. How is this different from the late 1700's when and the printed word when the reader was consuming the information days, weeks, and months after the printing and had no way to submit feedback? Is radio and television not the same interaction only with more immediate result? I am a bit confused about the "open exchange of ideas" theory with newspapers being distributed on horseback.
You go on to explain how the Bush administration has used television to mislead the American people on many issues and that television ads played a part in your lost election in 2000. The mainstream media has a well documented bias against the Bush administration, so I don't believe Bush had any sort of special access to the American people that was not constantly challenged and argued openly. I think I remember one or two ads from you during that time period as well. Why do you believe the Bush ads were more effective than yours? Television is not the problem. If anything it greatly accelerates the communication process.
You do make excellent observations concerning the lower literacy rates in America and how that is having a significant impact on how well the citizenry is connected - or not connected. One good example is on page 256 where you point out that 72.8 percent of college students in a 2005 study could not correctly identify the source of the idea of 'a wall of separation' between church and state. Of course you make this point right after a statement concerning the Declaration of Independence, which rather insinuates that the Declaration is the source of the separation statement. Actually the wall of separation idea can not be found in the Declaration of Independence or in the Constitution. It comes from a political statement that Thomas Jefferson made to a Baptist organization, which has been misused as Constitutional law. You failed to educate your readers on the origins of the separation idea so I thought I would help out.
I agree with your assertion that the Internet represents an opportunity for the American people to once again become more engaged and better informed. Hopefully people will choose to use the power of the Internet to spread truth and enlightenment.
You should notice that I have mostly ignored your constant obsession with bashing the Bush administration. Is this an example of the free exchange of ideas available through the printed word? You can not seriously make these statements about the Bush administration and pretend you were never involved in the executive branch participating in decisions that have led our country to where we are today. Mr. Gore, "MoveOn".
I believe the American people need to become much more involved in and much better informed on our government. Only with a connected citizenry will we be able to survive as a nation - so we agree on that point. However, radio and television are not the destroyers of civilization that you describe. It is the self-serving attitude of the entitlement generation that is killing our country.
I borrowed The Assault on Reason from a friend, to whom I loaned Horner's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming. I think she will enjoy extending her sources of information as I have with your book. Don't you?
##That's my opinion##