Collectively Created Problems? Yes. Collectively Solved Problems? No
Though conservatism as currently defined might seem to be against collective action, as it dismantles or paralyzes government and demonizes regulations, this is only half true. Conservatism allows problems like climate change to be collectively created, but is opposed to collective action to solve those problems. When Obama, responding to McCain's "drill, baby, drill" proposal to sell drilling rights along the coasts, pointed out that we wouldn't need to burn the oil from the coastal waters if we kept our tires properly inflated, he was ridiculed. He was proposing collective action to reduce climate change, while McCain was promoting action that would maintain or increase the collective releasing of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Libertarians, according to the Libertarian Party website,
"strongly oppose any government interference into their personal, family, and business decisions. Essentially, we believe all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another."Those last words, "as long as they do no harm to another", render libertarianism fraudulent from the get-go. It is a libertarian's deregulatory fervor that increases the harm individuals do to one another. To the extent that any individual creates nonpoint pollution, be it car or chimney exhaust, trash, sewage, or fertilizer runoff, that individual is creating harm, particularly to those who are downstream in topography or time. Libertarianism, being a substantial component of conservatism, is compromised at its core. Liberals, acknowledging basic realities that a libertarian chooses to ignore, work to free us from the negative impact of others.
Energy Independence Now, Energy Dependence Later
There's a flip side to claims that drilling more domestic oil will reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. Draining the nation's reserves of oil and gas now leaves fewer reserves to tap in the future. True energy independence is achieved only by reducing the need for energy, through greater efficiencies of which keeping tires inflated is a small but valid example, and by tapping the inexhaustible energy from the wind and sun.
Public vs. Private
Part of our individual wealth is what we own collectively through government. The logic of government can be seen in a public park. Owned by everyone, a park enables the individual to enjoy a landscape that otherwise would be accessible only to those with the wealth to acquire it. We all own the nations coastal oil reserves. Leasing that shared wealth, most likely at very low prices, shifts that wealth to a few private companies, leaving the public poorer.
Radical Conservatism Co-ops the Language of the Radical Left
The "Drill, baby, drill" of 2008 was preceded by the "burn, baby, burn" phrase associated with the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965, when urban blacks rioted to protest police brutality. Though the burning of fossil fuel is highly controlled, hidden within internal combustion engines and furnaces, its consequence is a permanent heating of the planet and radicalizing of the weather, with consequences that are far more destructive than an urban riot.
Lyrics in a 2001 song by Ash, entitled "Burn, Baby, Burn", capture the radical result of a conservatism that untethers the individual from responsibility for collective consequence:
Tumbling like the leavesU.S. Rushes to Become Europe
We are spiraling on the breeze
Almost to the point of no return
Everything will burn baby burn
Resource abundance has long distinguished America from Europe. Dismissive of Europe and its ways, conservatism ironically hastens the resource depletion that in time will make America more closely resemble Europe.
The Quandary of the Conservationist
The work of preservation is never done, while it only takes one action to permanently exploit or destroy.
It Only Takes One Bad Tenant in the White House
Anyone who has been a landlord for awhile has learned that it just takes one bad tenant to trash a house. Likewise, it takes only one bad president to trash a nation. The George W. Bush administration left a legacy of 9/11, two wars, an economic meltdown, and tragic delay on climate change. With one political party in the grips of an anti-government philosophy, the federal government is caught in a recurrent cycle of demolition followed by repair, followed by even more aggressive demolition.