Al Gore Calls for SXSW to “Occupy Democracy”

The former U.S. vice president visits Austin for a SXSW Interactive keynote talk with social media impresario Sean Parker. 
Tue March 13, 2012 9:13 pm
SXSW

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore’s SXSW Interactive appearance with social media zelig Sean Parker (Napster, Plaxo, Facebook, Causes.com) Monday didn’t have a name like all the other panels at the conference, but it could have easily been, “When is all this social media stuff finally gonna be worth something politically?” Gore began and ended the talk, which took place in the Austin Convention Center’s cavernous Exhibit Hall 5, by calling for the digital world to “occupy Democracy.”

“Our democracy has been hacked,” Gore, whose current projects include Current TV, the Climate Reality Project, and sustainable investing, said in his lengthy opening remarks. “It no longer works, in the main, to serve the best interests of the people of this country.”

Sounding very much like a man whose political career is over, thereby freeing him to criticize elected officials for being in the pocket of big donors and corporations, Gore suggested that if the invention of the printing press helped undo the feudal system, television changed that back. “For all the optimism about the Internet,” he said, “we still live in the age of television.”

And television–and the ad dollars needed to get on it–are what drive today’s politics. Gore later noted that if Thomas Paine had written Common Sense (which he called “the Harry Potter of the eighteenth century”) today, he’d have had do a $5 million ad buy to

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