I have always been someone who backs the underdog and have very little use for the de facto Establishment. I am, perhaps, overly idealistic and at times unreasonably dogmatic, but this instinct has driven many of my trivial and not-so-trivial decisions. For example, OS choice: so it was that I decided to run with Linux in 1998 sucked into the Open Source hype, then Mac OS X in 2002, still attached to GTK and GNOME apps. I had long grown weary of Microsoft and their works. Browser choice: I continued to use Netscape, then Mozilla, then Galeon, then Camino, eschewing the bug-laden, unfixable mess that is IE (and while IE on the Mac is much nicer than its Windows counterpart, it is now ancient) I continue to be a resolute Dodger fan, and can’t help but find the Cubs endearing. And I chose Pediatrics as my specialty, because I want to help those who can’t help themselves—that is the nature of children, for one thing, and I feel that pediatricians tend to work more with underserved populations: minorities, immigrants, the undocumented.
And I did not vote for Al Gore in 2000 election, because he was decidedly not the underdog (that, and the electoral votes of my state were clearly going to go to Gore anyway, and I wanted to see if a third part candidate could get the requisite 1% of the popular vote in order to get federal matching funds.) Again, with regards to politics, I supported Howard Dean in the 2004 election, and I was happy that Al Gore lent him his support, despite the fact that success did not materialize.
But Al Gore is a different man now. I read an article on American Prospect Online about what Al Gore is up to these days and I got a little teary-eyed. This is a guy who groks the future, and I’m kind of sad about the momentum we have probably lost with regards to the Information Revolution.
I think I’ve probably written about this somewhere before, and I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten all the timing wrong, but I can’t help think of the dot com boom as part of the Clinton legacy, and the subsequent bust was the direct result of reactionaries (the erstwhile neocons) manipulating the markets (since the economy probably started going all to hell when the memory chip market collapsed in the mid ‘90’s, taking the nascent economies of Southeast Asia with it, and pulling Japan down like an albatross—partly thanks to the insane policies of the IMF, but we won’t go into that), then tarnishing Clinton with the whole retarded impeachment thing. (A blowjob? And we’re not impeaching this Bush bastard for turning America into a police state and essentially pissing on the Constitution?)
I still find it interesting that the technological capitals of the country with regards to biotech and information systems, namely Silicon Valley and Boston, are liberal strongholds, and that the neocon surge basically sucked the life out of these places. At least on the West Coast, Silicon Valley and the entire state of California was essentially neutered by Enron, who scammed us out of billions of dollars by manipulating the energy markets, incidentally costing Gray Davis his political career and allowing the Terminator to take the helm. And now that the Republican Party has a stranglehold on the federal government, naturally the flow of money is going to places like Texas instead.
When I start thinking about this, I can’t help but feel that W’s administration really did allow OBL to attack NYC, which is yet another liberal stronghold, but I suppose this is for the conspiracy-theorist to dissect. Where the hell is OBL? Why haven’t we caught him yet?
But anyway, back to Gore. It pisses me off that people make fun of him for claiming to invent the Internet, despite the fact that he never said any such thing, and Gore did lend significant support to what would eventually become the Internet. Man, this guy was prescient. And now that he is unfettered by the “centrist” DLC mindset (which basically supports simply lying face down and letting the neocons violate you), he is a guy who is holding to his principles, and using new technology to promote his goals.
Which leads me back to the notion of futurology, which touches upon a culture’s vision of the future. As I mentioned before, ever since the dot com bust, American futurology no longer trusts to technology, which is in stark contrast to, say, the ‘60’s, when JFK set off a whole new age by trying to get to the Moon, resulting in technologies that have made all our lives better. Or, say, the ‘40’s, which saved the world from Fascism, not to mention pull us out of the Depression. Instead, we have a society that has a lot of people championing such non-scientific ideas as Creationism, distrusting biotechnology completely (this despite still trusting the beef industry even as they continue to downplay Mad Cow Disease), and wanting to stifle the anarchy that makes the Internet what it is with censorship and surveillance, and also trying to destroy the remix culture which includes Hip-Hop. Hell, we now have a state in the Union that has completely abolished abortion, assuring that the days of sepsis due to coathangers will return. Instead of heading into the future, we as a nation are trying head back to the Dark Ages.
If Gore had stood his ground and took the reins of the presidency which was rightfully his, would we have avoided this backslide into medieval times? Would we even now be heading out to Mars, saving lives with cloned organs grown on organic matrices, or expanding the reach of freedom of speech by infiltrating closed societies like China with a vengeance by spreading our information technology? Would we be a step closer to Vernon Vinge’s Singularity, instead of running from it with our tail between our legs?
Then again, I think of the resurgence of Mozilla. Netscape had to die so that Firefox could live. Since the Information Revolution is such the paradigm of our age, I wonder if this is a useful analogy for the resurrection of American ideals. Certainly the aforementioned article makes it seem that Gore had to crash and burn before he could rise to his current role. Perhaps that’s how we will regain control of our Nation as well, and return to the principles of the Constitution that not only makes our country great, but simply makes our country what it is.