Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Small blood-sucking arthropods...

This is an observation on politics. Those of you who are familiar with the political system in the US know that there are two main political factions, the Democrats and the Republicans. Both of these political parties have traded blows and dialogue with each other since their formation more than two centuries ago. Now this is not to say that the two parties are identical, as there are some key differences between them, but both of them have some rather large faults as they have made the American political system grow so stagnant as we see it now.

Let us take a look at the Democrats first. The Democratic party formed in opposition to the Federalists in 1792. When it was founded by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, it was known as the Democratic-Republican party. The Democratic-Republican party championed state's rights, small government, and the interests of small landowners over the vested interests of corporate and governmental institutions. However, the Democratic wing of the Democratic-Republican party underwent a sea-change during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, favoring an increase in government spending in the form of social welfare and an expansion of governmental programs.

In 1912, the Republican party split off from the Democrats due to internal tensions between conservatism and liberalism in both the economic and social sense. The Democratic party split off with Wilson, the Republican party split off with Taft, and Theodore Roosevelt called his party the Progressive party. With the creation of the New Deal program by the second president Roosevelt (FDR), the Democratic party favored a strong central government over individual states rights as well as an expanded role for the government as a financial regulator. During the 1960's however, things began to get interesting. Up until the 1960's, the American southern states were traditionally Democratic until the Southern Democrats became infuriated over the civil rights legislation passed by president Kennedy. Democrats in the South quickly defected to the Republican party.

The Democratic party underwent another massive identity shift with the rise of the "green" movement during the late 1960's. This pushed its policies further to the left in the fiscal sense with the increased calls for environmental regulation of industry and business. The vilification of nuclear energy was swept up in this movement with the disasters at Chernobyl and the movie The China Syndrome released right before the Three Mile Island near-disaster caused many environmentalists to ally themselves with the Democratic party. This was to try and influence the government to impose strict regulations on what they saw as a threat to the environment.

The "deep green" movement continues to appeal to many politicians in the Democratic party today, who are eager to try and capitalize on this particular segment of the voting populace as it grows in power. Al Gore is a noted example of this phenomenon as he embraces the ideological philosophies of groups such as Greenpeace to form his opinion on what direction the nation's energy policy should take rather than looking at the feasibility of meeting the energy demand of the nation using intermittent and inefficient energy sources such as ethanol, solar and wind power, while shunning nuclear power because of ideological bias.

The Republican party is in many ways even more dangerous and misguided than the Democratic party because it seems to have completely abandoned the idea of social liberalism as well as fiscal conservatism, with the Regan administration while embracing religious fundamentalism. Since the 1980's the Republican party has become more and more puritanical, anti-homosexual, anti-science and more authoritarian as it purges the "moderates" from its ranks in order to enforce a top down ideology based on judeo-christian principles in order to pander to the religious right. The frequent mention of "smaller government" as being one of the principles of the Republican party has long since been abandoned with measures designed to make the government more intrusive into the private lives of American citizens, such as the domestic spying program put forth by the Bush Administration. To make matters worse, the quality of the scientific education offered in our public schools has been suffering greatly as religious fundamentalism tries to sneak creationism into the curriculum under the mask of "Intelligent Design" and other disguises, and this strategy seems to have gotten more than a few sympathetic ears amongst the Republican party. When the religious right has destroyed biology, they will probably swarm and systemically destroy all the scientific disciplines one by one. Astronomy and Geology are probably next.

To make a long story short, both parties are increasingly adhering to rigid ideological principles, each dangerous in their own way. Between the two, I think the Democrats are somewhat less dangerous, but unless we can prevent the "environmentalists" from tampering with a practical energy policy, we will soon be restricted to medieval technology. I consider myself an environmentalist in the sense that I believe that a rational approach to solving environmental problems with cleaner solutions based on SCIENCE rather than ideology is important. Our need for energy is going to have to come from somewhere and forcing energy rationing and fantasy "renewable" solutions down everybody's throats is not going to do the environment any favors at all because people will then resume cutting down trees left and right to use in wood-burning stoves since everything else will probably be outlawed.

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