VIDEO: Al Gore Calls Government Shutdown Threat Political Terrorism

“Political terrorism”: that’s what former Vice President Al Gore called threats to shut down the government and default on the U.S. debt in his keynote address at today’s launch event for the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings. During his remarks about these issues, he said that “the only phrase that describes it is ‘political terrorism’. … We have a list of demands. If you don’t meet them all by our deadline, we’ll blow up the global economy.” He asked “Why does partisanship have anything to do with such a despicable and dishonorable threat to the integrity of the United States of America? … How dare you!”

“One of the reasons,” he said, for “too much tolerance of trifling with the shutdown of the government and the forcing of a default on payments that are owed,” is

hostility to the very idea of government … [that] has been fed by too many instances of poor management, problems that are allowed to linger, incompetence, bureaucracies that seize up and don’t function well. So, the work of this center in bringing to bear the best minds available, the best scholarship available, under the leadship of the best leader of this center you could possibley have—this work is really important far beyond what many might think of when they see the nameplate on the door. … This is really about the hard work and fresh thinking that is now essential in order to redeem the promise of self-governance.”

He laid the blame in part on a “very sick political culture that has grown worse very rapidly in the past couple of decades.”

The new Center for Effective Public Management aims to identify and solve today’s political and governance challenges; to reinvigorate U.S. government to be more effective and capable; and ways to improve the democratic process. The center’s founding director is Elaine Kamarck, who has served in a variety of public service and academic positions related to governance challenges and solutions. As senior policy advisor to Vice President Gore, she created the National Performance Review, the largest government reform effort in the second half of the twentieth century.  

Kamarck is also the editor of the new FixGov blog, ideas about making government work.

Gore, who said “our democracy has been hacked,” went on to say that he believes the new center “is going to make an even larger difference than normal. This one is at the heart of what we need to do to make the United States of America what our Founders intended and what our people deserve.”

Read more on FixGov blog about Gore’s remarks and the launch of the new center.

A full webcast archive and event audio are now available.