Monday, September 05, 2005

The Battle of New Orleans

Katrina, left and right
September 5th, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and its horrific aftermath has filled the media and blogosphere. As a wakeup call about the fragility of civilization, even in the world's most powerful country, it's a worthy story. And as a story, it's vastly beyond politics, too, but politics goes wherever human events are.

Sharp differences are emerging between left and right in this crisis. It's evident in the blogosphere, which now drives the framing of U.S. political debate. Bloggers on the left are awash in finger-pointing, using this catastrophe as their grand opportunity to Blame Bush, once and for all.

But on the right, there's quite a bit less of that. True to the American spirit, most right-leaning bloggers are mobilizing aid for the rescue of the people in the city of New Orleans. They seem to be mainly urging people to give, give, give for hurricane relief. This says a lot about the character of the two sides. On the left, it doesn't seem to matter that there's an overwhelming humanitarian crisis right now. Politics, upon which they are intensely focused, like a hungry beggar outside a bakery window, is drawing their attention. And they are struggling to fit the vast event into their narrow simplistic political template, which isn't easy.

Here is why: Looking at New Orleans, there's mixed political picture - Louisiana is a red state, but New Orleans is a blue city whose voters elect Democrats. Casting blame should be a self-canceling political picture, rendering ideology unimportant against the great humanitarian need. Besides this, the big U.S. charities that can help New Orleans' marooned castaways are generally run by liberals, which should make them an attractive cause for left advocacy. But for some reason, the left isn't interested. Leftists instead are yelling about Bush, and throwing in some of the most far-fetched retro race-baiting ever, relying on words and not action.

By contrast, on the right, bloggers are fiercely urging donations to aid relief. They don't care about who votes for whom in New Orleans' elections, nor do they care about the ideologies of the charities so long as they get the cash to the needy.

It should be noted that the people of New Orleans struggling for survival don't care about politics either, suggesting a political comity.

Through thousands of private efforts, a little here and a little there, a vast great American spirit of pitching in is emerging from their direction, acting, not talking, with no political litmus test. At Val Prieto's Babalu blog, all blogging has been suspended until $5000 in donations is reached. Deeds before words.

A likely explanation for this pattern of behavior is in the nature of left and right ideologies. The left has little faith in anything except Big Government to take care of all needs. Therefore, one wonders if their wrath at Bush is grounded in a firm belief that the federal government and only the federal government can do anything to alleviate the catastrophe.

Charities don't register on their mental thermometer, only government does.

Since they don't like the leader of the government, it's pretty difficult for them - and thus their yawps against Bush are especially loud.The single interesting exception on the left is Bill Clinton, who to his great credit agreed to help lead the relief effort along with President Bush Senior. That he is on the outs with most of the Democratic Party is further indicative of their political fever. It's no coincidence that one of Clinton's more memorable statements is that 'the era of Big Government is over.'

On the right there is a belief that individuals in the private sector are not just handout receptacles from Big Government, but empowered citizens who can act on their own and make a difference. So we see a fierce effort to get involved and make a positive difference - fully in the spirit of Alexis de Tocqueville who first chronicled this cultural action in his Democracy in America.

On the right they are even, as believers in markets and competition, apparently competing with each other on NZ Bear's site to see who can donate the most to charity. Who such a contest to raise the most cash ultimately helps becomes obvious when one thinks of the photos of poor people in wheelchairs awaiting help in New Orleans. A look at those blogs in the running for donations shows a paucity of left-leaning blogs seeking to raise aid.

What does this mean? The reactive exclamations from the left, focused on Bush, all talk and no action, are a sure sign that the left still isn't ready for prime time in the political arena. Until they scrap their selfish concern about their political prospects and embrace pitching in and seeking a solution greater than Big Government, they're going to remain in the political wilderness for a long long time.

A.M. Mora y Leon


At September 05, 2005 8:01 AM, Blogger Emily Santiago said...

Your blog is creative Keep up the great work. I'm sure you'd be interested in How to buy & sell tracking software on interest free credit; pay whenever you want.

At September 05, 2005 8:03 AM, Blogger Blogger News said...

When I surf, I look for interesting blog sites. Yours is nice!
Keep up the good work!

website. If you, or someone you know, has a concern with Back Pain,
please come and check it out. You won't regret it!

At September 05, 2005 8:10 AM, Blogger Ray said...

RSS Feeds, Secured For Enterprise
Load user-defined Excel templates, containing formatted sheets and charts, with data from any database.
Just blogging about looking for info as my blog is still a work in progress,as most of my time goes on my spyware eliminator
related site spyware eliminator is my life's

At September 05, 2005 8:16 AM, Blogger Karla Goble said...

Hi. I like your blog!
If you're interested, I have a site about alternative medicine.
It has lots of alternative medicine related info and products. Please check it out when you get a minute. Thanks!


Post a Comment

<< Home