The author, playwright and activist Gore Vidal has died at the age of 86. A national icon who authored more than 20 novels and five plays, Vidal was one of the best-known chroniclers of American history and politics. He dedicated his work to writing and critiquing the injustices of U.S. society. In a 2004 appearance on Democracy Now!, Vidal talked about the role of democracy in the United States, dating back to the Constitution. [includes rush transcript]
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AMY GOODMAN: The author Gore Vidal has died at the age of 86. A national icon who authored more than 20 novels, five plays, Vidal was one of the best-known chroniclers of American history and politics. He dedicated his work to writing and critiquing the injustices of U.S. society. In a 2004 appearance on Democracy Now!, Gore Vidal talked about the role of democracy in the U.S. dating back to the Constitution.
GORE VIDAL: The word "democracy" is not only never mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, but democracy was something that the Founding Fathers hated. This is not generally known, because it shouldn’t be known, but it is. I wrote a little book about it called Inventing a Nation that Yale published last year.
Our founders feared two things. One was the rule of the people, which they thought would just be a mess. And they feared tyranny, which we had gone through King George III. And so, they wanted a republic, a safe place for men—white men—a property to do business in. This is not ideal, but it’s better than what we have.
So, here we are bringing democracy to the poor Afghans, but only the real democracy, of course, in the prisons, which we specialize in everywhere and which—one interesting thing that came out of all that mess was now the world knows how we treat Americans in American prisons. All that behavior, the humiliation and the violence and so on, that is typical of not so much—federal prisons, somewhat, but state prisons, municipal prisons, detention centers. This is the nation of torture. And those who disagree with me, you can write an angry letter at this very moment, if you can write at all. Sit down and write an angry letter to the commander-in-chief and have him examine the prisons.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, on that note, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Gore Vidal.
GORE VIDAL: I just barely started.
Click here to watch all of the interviews with Gore Vidal on Democracy Now! over the years.