During the past few days, anyone in America who tunes into the news has had a chance to revisit the horrific catastrophe that befell New Orleans five years ago. There’s no two ways about it: government failed the citizens of that great city before, during, and after the tragedy.
Sadly, many citizens take from this the wrong message. They say government was the problem. That’s like blaming the house for a leaky roof: Whose responsibility is it to maintain the integrity of the house?
In the case of America, it was the Republican Party—actually, a saner, less radical version of today’s extremist GOP—that was in charge of America’s house for twelve years. They were the homeowners who failed to invest in the infrastructure of the Gulf Coast, disaster preparedness, and oversight of agencies like FEMA—investments that could have averted much of the damage and suffering caused by Katrina and its aftermath.
I’m not going to debate this with those who get their attitudes and information from Fox News—those who echo the talking points of extremist conservatives and scream about Obama in the same strident, snarky tone as Sarah Palin. You know who you are.
America needs a citizenry that recognizes propaganda when they see it (as in the network whose founding father recently donated $1 million to the Republican Senatorial Committee). We need voters who know that the government of America is all that separates us as a nation from countries like Iran and Bangladesh. We need a government that’s strong, efficient, respectful of individual liberties, and responsive to the needs of people as individuals.
We’ll never get—or keep— such a government by accident.
America, we bought this house two years ago. Let’s not be discouraged by the enormous amount of work needed to put it in order. If those formerly in charge want to continue to weigh in on the decisions that have to be made, let’s insist that they work with, instead of against, those who want to make the necessary repairs.