Hurricane Sandy Is Political — Deal With It

We can't talk about the disaster without mentioning climate change or FEMA.

Hurricane Sandy severely damages Atlantic City, N.J. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Hurricane Sandy severely damages Atlantic City, N.J. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(The Root) — So MSNBC’s Chris Jansing highlighted this tweet as the “Tweet of the Day”:

Even just days before the election, #Sandy is a reminder that political ideology is secondary to the fact that we are all Americans. —Abby Huntsman

And only minutes before the MSNBC declaration, I had tweeted this, about Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s praise of President Obama’s disaster response:

Wow. Chris Christie is seeming caring & empathetic. That’s how bad this #Sandy ‘ish is. Im praising Christie and Christie is praising Obama.

Also — there have been tons of conversations concerning the politicizing of a national tragedy. I often agree with calls for putting politics aside to allow for mourning and the tackling of issues that are bigger than simple party ideology. But when it comes to Sandy and its aftermath, I find it hard to see a position where this isn’t completely political. 

Two major points make this entire disaster very political. The first is the amazing amount of silence during this election cycle on the subject of global warming. While most weather watchers and scientists have said you can’t quite pin hurricanes on global warming, what can be directly attributed to the storm and its damage is the ocean levels.


Global sea level is now about 8 inches higher, on average, than it was in 1900, in connection with global warming. Sinking land has added several inches more of local sea level rise in the Mid-Atlantic. That means the storm tides from Sandy are that much higher than they would have been if the identical storm had come along back then.

So global warming is back on the table. And although President Obama shares some blame for not highlighting this more during this campaign season, it’s a known fact that this particular issue is one of “the left’s” big causes, and it’s normally mocked by many of the leading voices on the right. Taking this into consideration, this tragedy becomes drenched (pun intended) in the politics of regulations, clean energy and more.

Then we have Mitt Romney and his comments on FEMA, which I wrote about yesterday. Whether or not you believe that Romney would ax FEMA completelyisn’t important — what’s not arguable is his desire to strip the power of the agency and hand it to states or privatize it. This is what he said.

The problem with that is he seems not to understand how FEMA works. Just because a tree fell doesn’t mean FEMA jumps into a state and starts controlling things. The agency is called when local, city and state emergency help can’t handle the situation. When they’re overloaded, FEMA comes in. It’s obviously necessary. Don’t believe me? Ask avid Romney supporter Christie.