Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Denialism Lets Voters Off the Hook for the Federal Debt and Global Warming

In "America Is Living on Borrowed Money," the NY Times editorial board sounded a warning about the federal debt, which continues to increase at a spectacular pace. 

The editorial covers a lot of bases, but it misses a central point. Americans are being let off the hook. One political party acknowledges the need to increase revenue to pay the government's bills, the other party does not. Similarly, one political party acknowledges the reality and danger of global warming, the other does not. This denialism has kept the Republican Party electable by letting voters off the hook. A vote for the Republican Party in its current state is a vote for shirking collective responsibility for our future. The reward for the voter is being relieved of having to pay the government's bills and making any substantive changes in our lifestyles to save a livable planet. 

As long as one party maintains an electorally advantageous posture of denial, all substantive debate is shut down. That posture of denial has worked well for the Republican Party since the Reagan era, allowing the party to compete for power despite many unpopular policies. The result is the quiet rise of increasingly troubling numbers, be they the size of the federal debt or the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Both of these rising numbers pose a threat to the America we know and love, and contribute to the diminishment of the nation's stature in the world--first through a steady weakening in the government's fiscal condition, and second by cheating the nation of its charmed place in the world's climate. 

That's the way to undermine a nation. Shut down substantive debate through denial, then let the problems grow and grow. 

No comments: