In the meantime, Republicans who haven't voted might think about the margin of error in their own party. The GOP has been taken over by the crushing weight of special interest money. According to one report, $9 billion will be spent this election cycle on all political races, with 80 percent of that money coming from a host of coordinated, conservative Republican superPAC's, businesses, and Republican lobbying organizations like the Chamber of Commerce.
This tidal wave of money brooks no diversity of opinion, nuance, or policy difference. It has turned the United States into a support system for the extraordinarily wealthy whose main goal is to keep what they have during a time of unprecedented economic contraction, organized through massively manipulated media and message machinery.
I hope Florida turns Romney back. Were that to happen, it would deliver a message from the ground that it is time to fix what is wrong at the top. Click 'read more' for a recent piece by Timothy Egan that should resonate in a state that has more to lose than any other in the nation.
Nature Votes Last
By TIMOTHY EGAN
Timothy Egan on American politics and life, as seen from the West.
A catastrophic storm has no feelings, no fury, no compassion and certainly no political position. Hurricanes may sound like bridge partners at the Boca community center — Sandy, Irene and Katrina — until they land and become monsters. The mistake, perhaps, is trying to anthropomorphize them.
But that doesn’t mean that a fatal blow from Mother Nature will not alter the course of human nature. When the seas rose earlier this week, swamping the world’s greatest city and battering a helpless state, the turbulence of the elements washed away the sand castles of politics.
Climate change is to the Republican base what leprosy once was to healthy humans — untouchable and unmentionable. Their party is financed by people whose fortunes are dependent upon denying that humans have caused the earth’s weather patterns to change for the worse.
At the same time, Republicans have spent the last year trying to win an argument about the role of government as a helping hand. By now, most people know that Mitt Romney, in his base-pandering mode during the primaries, made the federal disaster agency FEMA sound like a costly nuisance, better off orphaned to the states or the private sector.
His party can get away with fact-denial — in global warming’s case — and win cable-television arguments about FEMA, so long as something like a major news event, e.g., reality, does not shatter the picture. That’s where the storm upset a somewhat predictable race.
Did global warming cause Sandy to be so massive, so destructive, so unfathomable? There’s no consensus on this specific storm. But virtually every reputable atmospheric scientist who is not tied by money to an oil or coal company says that this week’s storm is a picture of what’s to come, if not already here. Many of the world’s premier cities, New York foremost among them, are at the mercy of the rising seas that accompany a hotter earth. Record low levels of sea ice in the Arctic and record warm temperatures in the Atlantic were likely part of the brew that contributed to Sandy’s very high storm surge.
“There has been a series of extreme weather incidents,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, stating the obvious. “This is not a political statement. This is a factual statement. Anyone who says there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Breezy Point in Queens, N. Y., after a fire incinerated over a hundred homes when Hurricane Sandy passed through the northeast.
President Obama has been silent on this issue of great import to his children, Sasha and Malia, and their children. He is afraid of those pockets of coal-mining, climate-change-denying voters in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. After the election, I suspect, he will be more vocal. A profile in courage he is not, but at least his party has some smart advocates for treating the patient before the meteorological malady kills it.
The other cherished idea of Republicans that was thrown to Sandy’s winds is the notion that people don’t need government in times of domestic trauma. Let the soup-can brigades, the church volunteers and the Red Cross handle it. When the full bill for New Jersey’s recovery comes due, no single state or private entity in the land will able to come close to paying for it. And that forces a basic question: do the other states, bound to the union of a single country, have a responsibility to pay for one that has been mortally wounded?
Ayn Rand is having her “Mad Men” revivalist moment in the Republican Party, led by social Darwinists like Paul Ryan. These people genuinely do believe that life is a battle between achievers and moochers, and that luck, good or bad, has little to do with it. Compassion is for wussies, and tax dollars from those at the top should not be used to help those who are struggling.
Of late, we’ve seen the “hate of all nature,” as one old-timer called the Dust Bowl, visit nearly every part of the United States. Texas was on fire for much of a year while its governor, Rick Perry, denied climate change and signed an official proclamation calling for a day of prayer for rain. The Midwest saw the worst drought in 70 years. Entire subdivisions in the Rockies were wiped out by wildfire.
In these precincts of extreme trauma, government haters became government lovers. In the reddest of Western counties after a big fire, in which many a home was saved by many a yellow-shirted hero, you always see these banners thanking the government for sending in rescuers with axes and shovels.
But over time, and with dismal repetition, will extreme natural disasters become like school shootings, with little thought given to the larger significance? Perhaps not yet. After the 1989 earthquake briefly halted the World Series, T-shirts soon appeared with these words: “Nature Bats Last.” In the election of 2012, it looks like nature votes last.