To hear both sides tell it, America would erupt into a pit of molten lava were we to elect the candidate that isn’t them. One man is a Kenyan socialist who wants to take away your guns and shoot you with them, forcing you to go to the hospital and use the insurance he made you buy. The other is a fascist JCPenny manikin who wants to repossess your uterus and turn the entire state of Delaware into a golf course. In reality, Barack Obama is a center-left pragmatist (emphasis on the center) who could give a damn about gun rights and fed our alpha-capitalist insurance industry billions of dollars with the Affordable Care Act. And, while I have no idea whether or not Mitt Romney wants to turn our nation’s first state into August National East, I do know that he doesn’t care a lick what you womenfolk do with your lady-parts. Like a good Mormon, he has no idea what goes on down there below the Mason-Dixon line and he doesn’t want to find out. So, instead of voicing his own ambivalence, he trots out the party line about conception occurring the split second after a man spills his seed and nods his head when his boy-toy running mate refers to rape as a “method of conception”. The next thing you know, he’s 12 percentage points behind Obama with women voters and his ace in the hole is having his Stepford wife literally scream “I love you women” during her convention speech. No one ever said the GOP did subtlety.
The “war on women” has been one of the central themes of this election cycle, and for good reason. The Republican Party is trying to erase 40 years of reproductive rights and reopen the long defunct septic abortion wards in our nation’s hospitals where physicians saw unthinkable and wholly avoidable horrors every day1. The Democratic Party has made sure to hammer home throughout this convention that they are party of choice while their opponents are the party of misogyny. However, another issue that has gotten much less coverage, but is possibly of greater importance, is how the candidates plan to address climate change in office. After all, a woman’s right to choose isn’t much good if there’s no earth left on which to do the choosing.
One of the pithy zingers that Mitt Romney let loose in his RNC acceptance speech made light of the concept of climate change and the entire ethos of environmentalism. His Mitt-ness was dripping with holier-than-thou contempt when he quipped that, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet,” while contending that, “[his] promise … is to help you and your family.” A lovely sentiment if you and your family happen to live on one of the moons of Jupiter, but for those of us who happen to live on Earth, it’s a tad unnerving. I’m sure the folks in Louisiana who Romney went to visit the day after making this comment had a different take on things. Between the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the catastrophic BP oil spill and last week’s deluge courtesy of Hurricane Issac, I’d think it’s fair to say that taking care of your family has been a little harder on those in the gulf coast over the past decade.
I can already hear the conservative foot soldiers who would never read this blog pointing out rather glibly that hurricanes are natural events and that what happened with Katrina was simply a case of Mother Nature being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s as maybe and I will acknowledge that the natural disaster was not invented in the 21st century. However, there has never been a time in recorded history that so many disasters have struck with such ferocity within such a small period of time. Just since 2004 we’ve experienced the following calamities: Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004 – Appx. 230,000 – 310,000 lives lost); Hurricane Katrina (2005 – 1,836 dead, $81 billion in property damage); Kashmir Earthquake (2005 – 79,000 dead); Cyclone Nargis, Burma (2008 – 138,000 fatalities); Sichuan Earthquake (2008 – 68,712 lives lost); Haiti Earthquake (2010 – 92,000 dead); Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami (2011 – 15,867 fatalities). I want you to go back and read that again. In just 8 years over 700,000 people were killed and millions more had their homes and towns destroyed by these natural disasters. To put that into perspective the United States military has experienced fewer casualties (appx. 625,000) during all of their conflicts combined since the year 1900.
It is not a secret that the polar ice caps are melting at an unprecedented rate. There is no disputing the fact that the average global temperature has risen by over 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past century or that the rate of increase has trebled since 1970 when compared to the earlier portion of the 20th century. These are facts. They are science. But, the Republican Party has made it abundantly clear that they do not believe in science. Their party platform is one that, in many ways, directly refutes The Enlightenment. You remember The Enlightenment, right? It was that quaint old time back in the 18th century when a bunch of Godless European swine had the crazy idea of basing human knowledge on reason and the scientific method. If Benjamin Franklin were alive today he’d probably beat Mitt Romney into a coma with a copy of Poor Richard’s Almanack.
The argument behind the Republican Party platform is, “well, sure, something is happening with the environment, but we don’t know what it is exactly or what’s really causing it.” That’s all well and good except every shred of evidence assembled by mankind points toward pollution and CO2 emissions causing this global calamity. It would be like having the left side of your body go numb while losing the ability to speak and getting dizzy and refusing to believe that you just had a stroke because there’s no doctor in your house to confirm it. Yes, you could argue the fact that there is a faint possibility that what you just experienced was not a stroke, but that still doesn’t change the fact that you can’t use half of your body or say a complete, intelligible sentence. Even if the GOP is right and man-made causes aren’t responsible for global warming, that won’t stop the Earth from continuing to heat up like an Easy-Bake Oven. You can’t just sit there and try and pretend that what is happening isn’t actually happening, can you?
On second thought, don’t answer that.
1If you’re interested in finding out more, here is a OB/GYN who was in practice well before Roe vs. Wade was put into place. I do warn you that the details of this essay are graphic and you may not want to read it if you’re made uncomfortable by descriptive medical accounts: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/health/views/03essa.html