FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Billion-Dollar Horse Race

Al Gore is holding audiences around the nation spellbound with his message on global warming and its consequences: a sea-level rise, acidic oceans, drought and massive economic dislocations.

Carbon-dioxide emissions are raising temperatures around the world.

If we listen to the scientists and understand the facts, there is only one conclusion: We have to turn the global thermostat down.

That is the simple logic of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary that he is presenting to audiences around the nation, as he has in Florida, as “the man who was the next president of the United States.”

But in his 2000 presidential campaign, the environment was invisible in candidate Gore’s campaign.

Key advisers and Gore himself believed that the issue that virtually defined his worldview had to be kept from sight in order to become president.

One can imagine that there were two aspects at work: first, that environmentalists were already on his side. His opposition was hammering persuadable voters (“Ozone Al,” remember that?) with doubts that global warming had any grounding in fact.

The second aspect of his thinking, though, is rarely discussed: Gore’s key campaign finance advisers were concerned that his pro-environmental message could alienate big Democratic donors just when final money was needed for television spots.

In 2000, Gore needed money to be competitive. His Florida campaign advisers told him to stay away from controversies like the Homestead Air Force Base conversion in South Miami-Dade because he would alienate Hispanic voters — which actually wasn’t the case.

What Gore’s advisers were really saying was this: You can’t afford to alienate big Florida donors who are Democrats and for whom environmental issues are a drag on construction and development.

Although we like to talk about the environment and the economy as mutually compatible, the reality is that economic interests with the most to gain from the outcome of money-intensive elections are not particularly friendly to the environment. Just look at Florida’s wasted suburban landscape, de-watered wetlands, polluted waterways, and the endless rounds of assurances that everything is being done, that can be done, to make a better tomorrow.

In his campaign-free life today, Gore represents the epitome of ease and conviction borne of clear logic related to global warming. In his campaign life of yesterday, Gore couldn’t find his way to his own constituents.

Gore ends his speeches with encouragement: We can solve the problems of global warming because “political will is a renewable resource.” He is right, except in the case communicating that will requires a billion dollars in a presidential campaign.

In relying on vast campaign contributions, both political parties are engaged in “mutually assured destruction,” the term once used to describe nuclear arsenals aimed by the Soviet Union and the United States at each other.

Most Americans are so tired, they can’t wait for anyone to be the next president. But the hurry-up-and-wait scenario we face in Super Tuesday primaries next February obscures the truly revolting: that the 2008 presidential election is likely to cost at least $1 billion.

Think of what a billion dollars of political contributions buys the United States.

I think about it because presidential candidates have been scouring the Florida landscape for months. By next Feb. 5, Democratic voters in key primary-election states may decide their candidate to be next president. Republicans will be voting, too, but apportionment of delegates has not yet been decided.

The lines have been drawn. Core supporters enlisted or re-enlisted.

Their goal: for dependable donors to give the maximum contributions today. Once that glass is full, then they’ll be expected to cough up additional donations to political parties or political action committees, including unlimited donations to their hybrids.

This is modern American politics: the wealth of a nation funneled into campaign machinery whose narrow spout emits television spots that most people with TiVos will TiVo right by.

The closer one looks, the harsher the view: A vast machinery of skilled and even brilliant practitioners, consultants and vote counters is applied to the illogic.

Who says there is no inflation?

For the privilege of a big-bucks donation to a candidate, you might get a photo taken or an “exclusive” briefing by the candidate and be amazed by polish applied to nuance so not a hair strays off-course.

Case in point: Al Gore.

Americans and the world deserve much better. And we can do better. It’s time to de-couple the election of the president from a billion-dollar horse race.

 

More articles by:

Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades and can be reached at afarago@bellsouth.net

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail