You can find all sorts of explanations for the parlous state of our body politic. The catastrophe of our last national election cycle here was preceded by the irrational Brexit vote (a misguided cry of anger and pain from English nationalists [but not Londoners]), has since been compounded in Europe by the onslaught of the far right in Germany in September and now this week in Austria. I wrote a paper several years ago that took a long, hard look at the Contemporary American Right in which I posited that right wingers are, in a word, ill. A distinguished student of conflict, Vamik Volkan, calls them regressed. (Notice that I don’t dignify the inhabitants of these pathologies as “conservative” – it does them far too much justice.)
I further wrote in June that as we are being driven deeper into the jungle of the Age of Trump that what we are experiencing in the US (and beyond) is a cancer, and that through moral and legal actions in the courts, in the streets, from state and city officials, and non-governmental organizations, there is resistance, an expression of survival, of political health: “What I see happening is that the American body politic, weakened by corrupt and immoral politics, strange ‘news’ marketed to the deepest vulnerabilities of too many Americans’ psyches, fueled by a virtually limitless supply of dark money, is fighting the cancer that has invaded.”
In a recent review of Salman Rushdie’s new book, The Golden House, about the dark age into which we have fallen, the reviewer writes: “The contest is not between right and left (political parties are not named) but between morality and savagery. It is a battle for modern civilization. ‘I began to wonder,’ writes Rushdie, ‘if we were moral beings at all or simply savages who defined their private bigotries as necessary ethics.’”
And in an op-ed this week in the NY Times looking at the mess that is the Republican Party, the author says: “Yet it would also be a mistake to pin the party’s problems on Mr. Trump alone. He is not their root cause. Instead, he is an avatar of the party’s pathologies, the culmination of its cynical and shambolic trajectory over the last two decades.” Again the metaphor of pathology, of disease.
There are, of course, intellectually more accessible explanations for the nightmare here, one of which is that it’s all about Trump’s madness or, as I suggested here, much of the problem lies with the fathomless capacity for corruption of the fossil fuel interests. The evidence for that keeps coming. We have the Four Horsemen of the Fossil Fuel Apocalypse busting their guts to gut environmental protection and to turn back the clock to the mid-20th century’s reign of coal, oil and gas. To nobody’s surprise, Scott Pruitt has galloped into the EPA, flailing away at regulations designed to protect public health. For a lighter but nevertheless incisive look at this hired gun’s actions to serve the corporations’ interests, not the health of the American public, see this segment from Seth Myers, and, more seriously, a Mother Jones article on Pruitt. Most recently, Pruitt announced that the “war on coal is over,” as he pulled the plug on the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. What drivel! There never was a “war on coal,” only a wholly legal, concerted and thoughtful drive to advance economic strength and reduce air pollution, including greenhouse gases. It’s all part of the nightmare of Trump and Pruitt’s EPA. Here’s a compendium of the shameful behavior of these troglodytes.
Speaking of which, check out the new head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality who says in her book, Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy, that there are “all kinds of examples of the really beneficial impacts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere…” Climate denialists really have no clothes.
And the beat goes on. I wrote here in June about yet-another assault by the special interests on reason and economic reality: “An article, for instance, in yesterday’s NY Times looks at how the US Department of Energy is trying to figure the best way to cut wind and solar power development off at the knees. One member of Congress said: ‘It appears to me to be a bottom line that’s written and now looking for a study to substantiate it.’ (Here’s more in-depth analysis from the Sierra Club: Rick Perry Thinks You’re Stupid.) Who’s writing this report? Travis Fisher, formerly an official of the Koch Brothers’ Institute for Energy Research.” The study came out in August and it was, predictably, a load of … poor thinking. NRDC had this to say about it here: “The report is disjointed, making misguided recommendations to relax environmental rules and saddle customers with extra costs that are largely unconnected to and unsupported by the report’s findings.” Ouch.
Well Rick Perry’s DOE came out with their first overt, substantive, actual procedural thrust against renewables a couple of weeks ago, couching their argument in the need to “…address threats to grid resiliency.” The Environmental Defense Fund’s response? Rick Perry Attacks American Health and Prosperity in Bid to Bail Out Coal Plants. As I said before, ouch.
Had enough? Thankfully, there are many, many avenues to pursue initiatives to fight these fools. The environmental organizations: Sierra Club, Greenpeace, NRDC, EDF, and many others. Want to get your feet moving? Join the Sandy5 March in New York. Fight to divest universities, cities and other entities from fossil fuel investments. Stay connected with the People’s Climate Movement and 350.org. Check out the essential organizations leading the fight for knowledge, sanity and environmental action, and stay current with the media and blogs. And remember: We are the mainstream!