Just as in the last two years, President Obama faces a Right Wing House Republican majority so tightly laced in an ideological straitjacket that it often ends up totally divorced from reality.
He will have to contend with a GOP absolutist manifesto in which states always do a better job than the federal government, the private sector is better equipped than the public sector to get things done, and global warming, if it exists all, is a natural climatic fluctuation.
One wonders how long a dominant faction of the GOP can continue to dismiss human induced global warming as a legitimate concern, and instead characterize it as an alarmist hoax concocted by liberals to expand government influence at the expense of individual freedom.
Be leery of Right Wing ideologues whose doctrine does not allow for any admission of uncertainty, even in the face of uncertainty. Witness the kneejerk Right Wing portrayal of the recent killer hurricane Sandy as inarguably an aberration of nature rather than a harbinger of a new norm. Contrast that with the cautionary stance of the overwhelming majority of the world's climatologists. They conclude that the weight of evidence implicates global warming as a factor in increasing the intensity of storms, though not a definitive causation of any one particular cyclonic event. Experts with caveats beat amateurs with unyielding certitude any day of the week.
States obviously have a role in administering federal law on a daily basis. But most contemporary societal concerns of consequence, including major environmental ones, are too complex, sweeping in scale, and demanding of resources for any one state to handle unilaterally. When Right Wing ideologues advocate transferring the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to the states with their differing regulations and levels of enforcement, they are promoting a prescription for chaos. Only a centralized federal government has the resources and overview to coordinate, enforce, and lead the way in funding an effective effort to tackle the formidable trans-boundary eco-challenges that confront the nation.
That holds true as well for crisis management (as graphically illustrated in Sandy's aftermath), health care, anti-poverty programs, education, and a myriad of other societal needs.
Touting the private sector as superior to the public sector, regardless of the situation, is another Right Wing litmus test that clashes with reality. For example, private entrepreneurs can be useful in helping the public sector to manage national parks and the distribution of drinking water to the general population. But private parties' bottom line is maximizing short term profits, not the long term public interest. The latter is government's ultimate responsibility, and it's time the president and Congress join in acknowledging this and act accordingly.
Will they do so? There is little chance until Right Wing ideologues treat life as an amalgam of shades of grey rather than a kaleidoscope of black and white.