Al Gore: "American democracy has been hacked" in ways that would have shamed the Framers

The former vice president said that combination of money and technology has made the US anti-democratic


Scott Eric Kaufman
September 30, 2015 11:28PM (UTC)

Former Vice and almost-actual-President Al Gore spoke to MSNBC's Chris Hayes Tuesday evening about the future of American democracy in the wake of the current presidential campaigns, and his assessment was grim, to say the least.

"American democracy has been hacked -- it no longer is operating the way it was intended to operate," Gore said. "The principle reason for the degradation of the process is the influence of big money."

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"And yet, the many proposals for campaign finance reform have been inadequate to solve this problem because the main underlying reason for the bigger role of money is that we know longer have the way of communicating with one another that existed when our Founders wrote the Constitution."

Part of the reason is purely technological, in that the Framers of the Constitution couldn't have imagined what the barriers to entry into the political process would be centuries down the line.

"The printing press created a public forum in which individuals could freely enter and participate," he said, "but the dominance of television since the last third of the 20th century put up barriers to individuals participating. Gatekeepers charge a lot of money for the kind of regular communication that comes in the campaign television commercials."

Hayes wondered whether Gore wasn't being presentist, as money and access to an audience have always played a part in rendering candidates more or less electable, but Gore said that it's different after the Citizens United decision.

"It was not nearly as bad then as it is now," he said. "But the influence of money has to be curbed and Citizens United has made it even worse. The idea that corporations are people is, of course, absurd and ridiculous. But that is now what has happened, and it's another layer of problems for the election process."

Watch the entire interview below via MSNBC.

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Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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Al Gore American Democracy Aol_on Chris Hayes Elections 2016 Msnbc Video

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