JAZZMAN CHRONICLES. DISSEMINATE FREELY.
By Jack Random
“I have a job in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics… I have to say, the administration, the president, himself, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far. We have a great partnership with them. I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, October 30, 2012
No one can predict what will happen in the final days of a presidential election. Last time around the October surprise was the impending total collapse of Wall Street and the global financial system, a crisis so acute it forced a Republican president to go against a fundamental tenet of his party’s philosophy by advocating a massive financial bailout.
For those whose memories are short, we were on the verge of a catastrophe that went to the very foundation of our economic system. Had it been allowed to unfold (let the markets correct themselves), a worldwide Great Depression would certainly have followed.
Republican John McCain’s muddled response, contrasting with Barrack Obama’s decisive leadership, paved the way to a clear and decisive victory.
In the 2012 election, the crisis came in a different form. As if to remind us that the effects of climate change cannot be denied by political decree, Mother Nature spawned a Super Storm whose breadth and depth of destruction throughout the northeastern seaboard was unprecedented.
Just when we thought climate change would not make an appearance this election cycle, along comes Hurricane Sandy to provide a grim vision of what our willful ignorance can do. And while we cannot with certainty attribute one extreme weather event to global warming, we would be fools not to acknowledge that this is exactly the kind of event climatologist have predicted.
Every Romney supporter who laughed when their candidate belittled the idea of a president fighting the rise of the ocean might now have second thoughts, particularly if they live on the east coast.
Welcome to the new world where catastrophic weather events become more commonplace, more extreme and less predictable.
As our hearts go out to the millions of Americans affected by this storm, the lives and homes lost, the towns and communities decimated and the hardships that will be faced for years to come, our responsibility as citizens compels us to connect these events to the choices we face in the coming election.
Governor Chris Christie of devastated New Jersey rose above partisan politics when he praised President Obama’s quick and decisive response to this catastrophe.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney staged a fake relief event and refused to comment about his previous positions advocating cutbacks in emergency management, handing responsibility to the affected states and privatizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
We all remember what the last Republican president did to FEMA and how miserably that agency responded to Hurricane Katrina.
Candidate Romney is spending his final days of the campaign talking about big change but what he’s really offering is a change back to the policies of George W. Bush. When a president fundamentally does not believe in the role of government, agencies like FEMA, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Protection Agency inevitably decline.
To suggest that a state hit by a disaster and still struggling to climb out of the financial hole created by Republican policies, should somehow manage its own emergencies is flagrantly irresponsible. To suggest that a profit-motivated private corporation would do a better job of emergency management is absurd.
We have already witnessed what private insurance companies did in the wake of Katrina, drawing artificial lines between wind and water damage, finding loopholes and any excuse to deny claims or tie them up in court until wary and beleaguered homeowners are forced to sell out at a loss.
In times of crisis the people deserve and indeed demand an effective federal response to save lives, to mitigate damage and to help rebuild. President Obama is fulfilling that basic governmental responsibility because his administration was prepared for it. He has promised to stay the course and we must hold him to that promise.
That is not the kind of federal response we could expect from a Romney administration. Yes, he would appear on television, he would express his sincere condolences, he would make promises but in the end every state, every community, every homeowner and every individual would be left on their own. When the cameras leave and the coverage fades, the promises would be forgotten.
It is times like these that test the spirit of the nation. It is events like these that touch our hearts and trigger our empathy for our fellow citizens because we know, at another time and place, it could happen to us, to our families and loved ones.
At times like these we are made stronger by our sense of unity and our confidence that our elected leaders will help us to recover and rebuild.
At times like these we know what good government looks like.
It is perhaps unfair that a presidential election should be decided by a single event but when a candidate disavows virtually everything he has campaigned on to hide the fact that his agenda is to maximize the profits of the corporate elite while the rest of the nation pays for it with an age of austerity, then fairness is no longer in the equation.
The polls say the election is a toss-up (at least in the popular vote). I have no reason to doubt their validity. But with four days to Election Day, with the devastation of the Super Storm fresh in our collective consciousness, I believe we will see a clear and decisive victory for the Democrats in the House of Representatives, the United States Senate and in the White House.
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE BEEN POSTED ON NUMEROUS CITES OF THE WORLDWIDE WEB, INCLUDING THE ALBION MONITOR, BELLACIAO, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH, DISSIDENT VOICE, THE NATIONAL FREE PRESS, GLOBAL FREE PRESS AND PACIFIC FREE PRESS. SEE WWW.JAZZMANCHRONICLES.BLOGSPOT.COM.