Hurricane Sandy Is Political -- Deal With It
We can't talk about the disaster without mentioning climate change or FEMA.
(The Root) -- So MSNBC's Chris Jansing highlighted this tweet as the "Tweet of the Day":
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.
Indeed, Christie has, today, gone on record making it very clear that he not only wants FEMA aid, he wants it now and he is in no mood to see New Jersey residents get caught in the political cross-fire as Republicans in Congress look to find offsetting budget cuts to pay for the huge amount of aid that FEMA will be expected to provide in the face of what looks to be a $100 billion dollar financial catastrophe.
"Nobody was asking about offsetting budget cuts in Joplin," Christie said, referring to the tornado-ravaged town in Missouri town, "and I don't want to hear about the fact that offsetting budget cuts have to come first before New Jersey citizens are taken care of."
And that's what this all comes down to. Are American citizens in harm's way? And if they are, are they being taken care of? The tragedy of Sandy is a stern wake-up call for us all. This election and the thought process of our elected officials are incredibly important. And at the moment it's conservatives who don't want to deal with our role in climate change and the necessity of government's role in our lives. The Republicans' constant need to limit government unless its something they care about (like a woman's uterus or two people they don't think should get married) is problematic at best and catastrophic at worst.
So for those who fear the politicizing of Sandy, fear not. Sandy was political before she hit land.