Saturday, July 07, 2007

Republicans Provide No Leadership

I had this meme of "Republicans provide absolutely no leadership on anything" bouncing around in my head for months. I was turning the concept over and over in my head, trying to find a few examples where they actually provide some leadership on things. And by "leadership", I mean real, demonstrable examples of laying a path for the future, not hearkening back to some mythical golden age in the 1950's - I'm sure it wasn't as good as even white Christian males remember it, and for virtually everyone else, it was absolutely not great. I also don't mean by "leadership" endless resource wars and global hegemony or wars on nouns. That's just pathological behavior masquerading as leadership.

At the same time, I was pondering how so many liberals and "hippies" had/have so many things right, and are forging ahead to try to create real solutions to real problems of the here and now, as well as the future. While doing this, they are not relying on the "authority" of superstitious traditions of Abrahamic descent, either, and not denigrating science. Instead, for the most part, they embrace science - it's the best hope for resolving these problems. Meanwhile, many in the religious right actually look forward to catastrophic events. What kind of leadership is that?

So I was stewing in these very thoughts, when I came across references to an op-ed stating that the hippies were right. Says it so much better than I could have.

Jim Quinn used to say that there was no middle of the road when it came to politics. You had to go all of the way to one end of the political spectrum for any set of policies to be effective. The analogy he used was that if you're flying a plane, you can't choose to land halfway between New York and Paris. You have to choose one or the other.

For a while I believed this pretty whole heartedly, but of late I've reconsidered the position. This has been based partly on the "greening" that has been going on over the last few years. Hybrid cars are great, organic food are definitely better for you than a big bag of Doritos, and recycled paper is a total no brainer. And I'm all for saving the dolphins, the whales and the hairy chested nut scratcher.

But all of these things need to be offset by some form of moderation. I personally like my laptop, my ipod and my house. I'm not looking forward to some kind og Tyler-Durden-esque collapse of society for sake of releasing mother Earth from her shackles.

For example, the skies over Pittsburgh used look like the fifth ring of Hell. Just ask James Woods. Now, the look pretty clear to me, but the environmentalist still want more restrictions in the region.

Ditto for the trucking industry. My father-in-law works for Mack Trucks and has been telling me about some new restrictions. Effective this year, all new over diesel trucks need to have comply with new pollution regulations. He says that you can hold a white handkerchief over the stacks of one of these trucks and it won't get discolored. And there is another set of restrictions to take effect in 2009. What scary is the elevated temperatures at which those gases come out of the stack. The handkerchief would evaporate from the heat. Injecting all of those hot gases into the air can't be good either. But this society can't survive without over the road trucks.

My point is that moderation is the key. Yes, we've been fouling up the Earth ever since the Industrial Revolution. But we've come one hell of a long way, and we can do more. But we need to reach a balance. And letting the left wing, hippie, greenie, socialist crowd run the show won't generate a viable solution. Just like letting the right wing, capitalist, earth hating war monger won't work. We all need to work together, but politics have become a very defensive game.
Brian, I started writing a response here, but realized it will probably be too long. I'll try to expound more on my thoughts on this leadership thing in the entry. I've been stewing over this for a while, and probably didn't go into much depth in this posting and/or was not clear enough.
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