By: Brian Sikma
A well-meaning arrogance dominates, drives, and defines the modern political left. Throughout the West, liberals consistently advocate for policies that leave government, generally unelected experts and commissions, with more power and average citizens, entrepreneurs and families with fewer choices and less freedom. Europe is quite a bit closer to the consequences of such policymaking, but the Obama Administration is working hard to drive our country down that same path of soft socialism.
Conservatives believe that many choices are best left up to the individual, and to individuals working collectively through free-market based economic systems. Government, no matter who it is run by or how big it may be, cannot determine the specific needs of every individual and develop a targeted solution for every individual’s private problem. This is not to say that government should not limit choice in some areas. Moral issues are matters of absolute right and wrong, and failure to enforce a prohibition on making choices that violate morality is an open invitation to anarchy, and freedom cannot function when every man is a law unto himself.
Radical environmentalism, and the alarmist rhetoric and shoddy science resulting from it, provide an excellent case-study on the arrogance of liberalism. As the oil continues to spew at a rate of about 210,000 gallons per day out of the broken BP/Deepwater Horizon deep-sea oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, the left is up in arms over the extent of the damage being done to the environment of the Gulf of Mexico and southern coastal states. There is significant immediate and mid-term damage being done as the oil washes up on the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and drifts out on the currents threatening the coastal beaches of Florida.
After broadly denouncing corporations (that employ millions of Americans and pay billions in taxes), the private sector, and Republicans, President Obama’s most ambitious step towards solving the immediate crisis has been to order a freeze of all deep-sea drilling. Besides costing the nation part of its vital intake of domestic oil, and putting thousands of much-needed jobs on the line, the freeze does very little to prevent a repeat of the Deepwater well disaster. It does look good on the surface, however, as do the photo-op commission announcements and meetings with various academic and bureaucratic experts.
The one sector that the president has most heavily criticized throughout all of this is, ironically, the one entity that is doing the most to cap the gushing well and solve the problem. The oil industry, and particularly BP, has engaged in round-the-clock efforts to staunch the hemorrhaging of oil and thereby reduce the likelihood of greater environmental and economic damage. What, exactly, is the usefulness of Attorney General Eric Holder’s criminal investigation into the situation remains to be seen. It is doubtful that its value will measure up to what is being done with robotic equipment thousands of feet below the surface of the Gulf.
Broadly freezing all deep-water drilling, and announcing criminal investigations into the situation, are overkill responses to what is happening. Ultimately, once the oil leak is stopped and the clean up takes place, the environment of the Gulf and the coastal areas bordering it will recover. The oil that is causing the problem is a natural substance. In time, the affected areas will recover, and human efforts will only speed that recovery. The left worships the concept of “Mother Earth” and laments the tragic impact that human beings have on the environment. But liberals view themselves as the ultimate protectors of the earth and go about their do-good work with the attitude that without their loving and expert care, the earth would simply commit suicide and kill itself, human beings or no human beings.
Instead of blaming Republicans, the President should set aside the pretentious photo-ops and get to work helping state governments and private organizations that are better equipped to deal with the disaster. The American people in their haste should not be quick to blame the President, Washington, or either political party for the event that led to this problem (though an interesting case can be made for how environmental regulations forced the development of higher-risk deep-water wells when shallow coastal wells were available). But though the President may not be responsible for the problem, or for how large it grows, he is responsible for how he responds to the problem, and that is something the voters should begin to pass judgment on this November.