In the truest sense of bipartisanship, the idiocy of the debate on the Keystone pipeline is convincing enough evidence that seriousness of thought, statesmanship, vision, wisdom, long-term thinking, rationality and responsibility for future generations has no place in the United States Senate when it comes to the seminal issue facing the species: namely, climate change. And of course over the ensuing months it is likely to get worse.
The most profoundly disturbing element in what is passing for serious debate and deliberation is the constant drumbeat from both sides of the aisle on the impacts of building this continental conduit for the perpetuation of global poisoning will have on individual states and jobs. While I certainly support increasing living wage jobs for all Americans, there are sensible ways to do this, (i.e. through infrastructure projects that sustain communities), and there are stupid ways to do this, (i.e. through worsening climate change and its impacts upon the species).
Something that has troubled me for many years, including more than two decades working on or with Congress, is the default mechanism of acting more like a like a city ward leader or county commissioner rather than a United States Congressman or Senator. Supporting a project merely because it will result in jobs for their constituents regardless of the impact it has on other states or the country is the height of parochial and small-thinking and does a disservice to the title of their elected office. Their ultimate responsibility is to represent what is best for the country, hence the title of being a Federal elected official. They take the oath of office swearing allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and not the Louisiana or West Virginia or North Dakota constitution.
There is an essential disregard for the concept of federalism, an extremely important component to the representative democratic government fashioned by the founding fathers who receive such patriotic adulation by the very same individuals who then proceed to violate the document they have sworn to uphold.
Adding further injury to insult is the sophomoric and absurd assertions that jobs created have no qualitative differences whatsoever. A job is a job is a job, and regardless of the consequence of its creation is valuable. Using this rationale going to war could be justified because of the job creation opportunities it affords. What a ridiculous proposition. Creating a job that helps destroy not only the enemy but also our own society gives new definition to insanity. And make no mistake about this, what we are facing directly here is a war on the human species aided and abetted by the continued exploitation of a fossil-fuel-driven economic paradigm that kills with no regard for age, sex, color, religion, geography, or position in life.
Just as absurd as the proposition that war is justified because of its job-creating potential is the reality that in essence contributing to human-induced atmospheric degradation is a declaration of war on the human species. And the scope of the declaration does not allow for surgical decimation of a perceived enemy. Climate change does not discriminate when imposing the harsh and deadly consequences of its actions; it affects your loved ones as well as your enemies. One must seriously question the importance of jobs created under such conditions.
In stark terms we are declaring war on ourselves, which unfortunately fits neatly into the contemporary political context that features people voting against their inherent self-interests. And such is the state of political dysfunction in American society today.
The Keystone pipeline implicates the United States in the continuing destruction being wrought by carbon-intensive energy, is antithetical to the ongoing efforts to invest in renewable resources and efforts to coordinate carbon reduction strategies with other countries like China, and is an assault on the scientific evidence that overwhelming validates the interaction between global warming and human activities. To suggest that it is a job creator and therefore this should override all other considerations is cynical, short-sighted and qualifies a rank stupidity. Those making this argument represent an assault upon rationality and common sense and an embarrassment to intelligent thought, regardless of their party. Is there any wonder that fear, anger and frustration command such a prominent role in the putrid participation rates in elections such as the one held just two weeks ago.
Unless we face the larger issue of whether we should continue our dependence upon fossil fuels, a finite resource, we will continue to be hamstrung by the absurd theater we witnessed yesterday. Make no mistake we will watch as this silliness not only continues but accelerates as the new Congress convenes in just a few short months. It is a sad commentary upon the sorry state of affairs that are certain to play out over the remaining two years of the Obama presidency. And yes there is no one to blame but ourselves.