I have other things to post. But this item is more important.
I want to help share one of the most important speeches (so far) of the 21st Century. When you read it, you will see why I think so.
Al Gore has long been somewhat of a "Brin alter ego" -- in that his obsessions seem to be somewhat nerdier versions of my own, from pragmatic environmentalism to a fierce dedication to open systems of accountability. Yes, I dip and swerve into some wilder directions than he is allowed to -- for example into self-indulgent Jeckyl-Hyde intervals of flaming (if heretical) libertarianism. I see glimmers of similar leanings in him... though covered by the cautious shell of liberal policy-wonkitude. Whatever.
What I do believe, as a physicist/scif author, is that there must be a parallel world that diverged from our own, in 2001, at the very start of a new millennium.
In that parallel place, America is respected and at peace, its internal cohesion and readiness to face external threats is undiminished, citizen freedoms are assured and their government is held utterly accountable. It is also astoundingly efficient. We came very close to having that world...
...and a nation almost in tears from placid boredom, having to endure a president who is smart and good and oh-so mature... and fantastically un-diverting. It is (despite the boredom) a happier parallel reality, where we have cinched out belts, invested in science, rolled up our sleeves, and beckoned the rest of the world to follow. And they have followed.
Well, except for the Red Loonies. In that world, they are apoplectic, to the point of near implosion -- angry over “foreign adventures” and "utopian experiments in so-called nation-building." Those bizarro-graystaters are even more lividly dedicated to culture war than they are here, in our world. Because, lacking our experience, they still nurse an illusion that neoconservatism has some overlap with conservatism, that jingoism is patriotism, that the letters GOP stand for honesty and fiscal restraint, and that the world and nation would have been far better off, if only George W. Bush had won.
Indeed, so apoplectic that the world I am describing might NOT be better, after all! Might there already, in that other place, have erupted such an explosion of resentful, self-hypnotizing Timothy McVeighs -- seeing black UN helicopters behind every sunspot -- that civil war has already ensued? Might WE be the better, wiser version, as more and more chastened Americans learn the hard way an important lesson... that commies aren't the only kind of dogmatic dinosaurs that trample markets and freedom and common sense and basic human decency?
That the far-right, too, can go abso-freaking-lutely out of its cotton pickin' mind?
I will not post all of Al Gore's speech up here, at the top level. It is too long.
But I will post it in comments, below. I hope you get the time to read it. This is what we could have had. A man who actually spent his college years learning stuff, and acquiring a lifelong curiosity. A man who correctly disapproved of our foolish error in Vietnam, but went anyway, following grunts into danger. A man who promised to reduce the size of government, and was the only one in the last hundred years who actually did that. A man who can see that the Earth needs tending, while the poor of the world can only lift themselves amid a booming economy. A politician who is not known to have significantly lied.