Almost unbelievably, George W. Bush visited New Orleans yesterday. This was the scene of his second biggest crime, the first being the illegal invasion of a sovereign country. Ten years after he and his administration spectacularly failed the city and the country Bush had the chutzpah to return as if he were a hero. Unmitigated gall.
Katrina should have been an eye opening moment for the USA. It should have been the moment that the years of the Republican Party’s undermining of the true role of government was exposed as the the ugly pussed up sore that it is. Here was an administration given the reins of a government that at one time had the put together an agency capable of handling major catastrophes and they destroyed it. In the process they destroyed and damaged hundreds of thousands of lives. And then they had the gall to blame any and all others rather than taking the blame they so rightly deserved.
Katrina was only the most glaring of the many glaring problems caused by a party whose mantra is to destroy government and an administration that went about that task with an almost whimsical glee. The sight of George W. Bush smirking while soldiers died in Iraq or citizens drowned in New Orleans or families saw their life savings and jobs lost due to horrible fiscal mismanagement is a picture that still evokes feelings of dread among the populace.
The only real effort the Bush administration made during the Katrina crisis was to push the blame for their failures off to other levels of government. They were of course aided in this effort by corporate media headed by the Republican Propaganda Network aka Fox News. People died, people lived in squalor, people lost all their possessions while Michael Brown preened and Michael Chertoff showed off his incompetence.
The Bush Administration was the culmination of decades of the Republican Party’s concerted effort to make government appear weak and dysfunctional as they sought to make everything in this country dependent on for profit business. Our government is of, by and for the people. It is the legitimate purpose of government to provide leadership in times of national disasters. We as a citizens have directed our government to do so over the decades. Whether the disaster is a natural disaster or a man made financial disaster we have set the government up as the group that must lead us to restore us to living conditions.
During the most recent Republican administration we saw disasters in Iraq, New Orleans and the financial crisis. Two of those were made by the administration the other a natural disaster that was so batched by the administration so as to compound the damage manifold times. Katrina should have been such a glaring example of incompetence along with the financial disaster and an unnecessary war that the party responsible for all that in most other countries they would be hard pressed to rally ant followers again.
Barack Obama was elected to clean up the messes left by the Bush administration. Steady leadership is finally after nearly seven years pulling the country from the absolute disaster of the Bush years. During Hurricane Sandy, the Obama administration showed that they had repaired FEMA and it acted with competence in restoring the areas affected. Even such a hard core anti-Obama critic such as Chris Christie had to admit this was much better. Slowly we have removed soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. Slowly our economy is returning to a strong economy, despite Republican efforts to crash it once more.
The government is us, folks. It is rightly charged with restoring life to some normalcy after major disasters that are way beyond the capability of private businesses. It is us acting together through the agencies our representatives created for such times. Government is us creating plans to handle future disasters.
What a democratic government should never be is a group of oligarchs creating disasters (wars, financial crises) so they or their friends can profit from them. A democratic government should never be disinterested in times of natural disasters. A democratic government should anticipate potential disasters and have plans in place to meet those disasters.
Republicans have failed miserably when their have control of the government, usually making disasters much worse through incompetence and indifference.
Democrats since Franklin Roosevelt have been at the forefront of planning for disasters with agencies like FEMA under Jimmy Carter, Social Security under FDR, Medicare and Medicaid under LBJ, The ACA under President Obama, the FDIC under FDR and many, many more. Americans now expect their government to be competent in the face of disaster. They expect a comprehensive response that is co-ordinated and that will restore life to as close to what it was as possible. In short, the government is us and should act like we do if faced with a disaster.
It really says something about the Republican Party that their leading candidate for president is a rich man whose main point is to threaten to cause an unmitigated humanitarian disaster. It really says something about the Republican Party that none of the other candidates have the guts to step forward and call out this plan for the humanitarian disaster it will cause. And once more it says a lot about the Republican Party that 30 % or more of their party is ready to follow this man into creating one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of recent years.