EDITORIAL: Why indieWIRE Should Endorse Al Gore for President
by Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
[EDITORS NOTE: As a reminder of our editorial policy, these viewpoints are
not edited for content, but are presented as the views and opinions of the
individual writers. They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of
indieWIRE may be a little film magazine, but everything is still wrapped up
in politics, from the films we see, to the shows we watch, to the books (and
Internet magazines) we read. So rather than ignore the important decision
that we're all going to make tomorrow, pretending it is not our place to
enter such political discussions, I feel it's a significant -- even crucial
-- duty to offer an endorsement for the next president of the United States:
Vice President Al Gore.
Now, how do we make this endorsement relevant to the indieWIRE reader? This
is where things get a little tricky. Both candidates favor misdirected moral
crusades at the entertainment industry, citing "family values" and
"protecting our children" as a reason to further censor our music and
movies. What is to be expected from the DUI conservatism of George W. is
just as apparent on the moderate Left. Tipper Gore has championed the rating
system for music long before she shined in the spotlight as the possible
first lady. Democratic Vice Presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman decries
Hollywood with as much vigor as any member of the right wing, calling for
parents to "raise PG kids in an X-rated society" (or would that be NC-17?).
So neither candidate would be a friend to artists trying to reflect
society's ills and blasphemies.
In addition, neither candidate has taken a single second of all of their
public airtime -- in debates, commercials, or speeches -- to indicate any
opinion whatsoever on art, the value (or even lack thereof) of artistic
creation. I haven't heard one word about it, have you? This indicates a
problem with the priorities of the people of our country, perhaps more than
the candidates chosen to represent them. But imagine a candidate that
included on his or her platform more public funding for the arts? Why is
this an impossible priority? Why has art become a forbidden word? A search
on Gore's website for the word "art" didn't yield a single policy statement
on arts funding or the National Endowment of the Arts. Liberal alternative
Ralph Nader offers none, either. Just the same repeated attempts to protect
children from the menacing marketing tactics of Hollywood. Why is it that
the evils of industry entertainment take precedence over the benefits of
independently created art?
In a recent report by the NEA, the U.S. fell in last place among ten major
nations in its per capita spending for the arts. Among nations with similar
economies, Canada, France, and Sweden spent between $40 to $60 per citizen,
while the U.S. spent only $6. Only two countries, the U.S. and Ireland, had
funding levels under $25 per capita. This is not "fuzzy math" as the
arithmetically-challenged Bush might say; they indicate the gross lack of
attention to the importance of culture in the U.S.
Now back to the endorsement. If this is all true, why Gore over anyone else?
It basically comes down to a very simple question beyond art -- ability. Who
do you want to lead the most powerful country in the entire world? The
"nice" guy or the "smart" guy? When we're on the verge of World War III,
who should take charge? The one who deals with the Mexican border or the one
with decades of foreign policy experience? When our economy enters troubled
times: do you want the guy with bad grammar to negotiate with the FED, or
the one who wrote a book? And And Gore has written books -- no ghostwriters,
no celebrity authors on board -- the guy has written books by himself. He is
clearly the more intelligent man and I challenge anyone out there to tell me
they'd rather have a more folksy president than a smarter
For the indieWIRE reader, Gore's experience as an author should also be
particularly appealing. Gore has sat at his computer, writing. He hasn't
spent time owning a baseball team or an oil company like Bush; he's spent
time writing at his desk, like many of us in the art and industry of film.
So if Gore hasn't gone out and said anything yet about the importance of
art, he, at the very least, has spent time doing what most artists do:
dwelling in a solitary place and expressing ideas. He is more among us and
of us than we might think.
Some of the more independent-minded of you may lament, Why not Nader?
Because we are a national publication (even worldwide), I can't in all good
faith encourage voters in swing states to vote for Nader. (If you support
Nader and you live in a swing state, find a voter in a non-swing-state, say
New York, and ask them to vote for Nader. It's called the Win-Win campaign.
You can read about it in an article on Wired News:
Thanks for reading, and please, tomorrow, if you do live in one of the many
states that may go to Bush, vote Democratic. And just think of it, maybe we
can spend the next four years building a coalition that supports culture and
art, rather than taking all of our time to fight for our basic civil rights.
[Anthony Kaufman is the Senior Editor of indieWIRE]
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