Tap tap tap. Is this microphone on? screeeeeeee. Yikes, I guess so! They told me at the Campus Center that this is where I go to get my rants out.
I have been thinking about the results of the 2010 midterm elections and the blood red color that the political map of the United States has turned.
My reaction after moving through the stages of grief was: “Ok. We have been in the minority before … we will get the majority back. We just have to do the right things and everything will work out”.
But then I picked up the newspaper and found out that the Tea Party governors, those elected by the Tea Party and those scared to incur the wrath of the Tea Party, plan to put up “No Trespassing” signs at their borders. And that “doing the right thing and having everything work out” harkens back to a different time…a political climate that no longer exists.
I remember a speech, in what seems like a million years ago, by a young state senator from Illinois. He spoke of there being no red states or blue states but a United States. That young man became a U.S. Senator and eventually President of those United States he talked about. But his dream of “no red” and “no blue” died on the vine of greed and bigotry and lies.
A Tea Party fueled anti-federal government mentality has now brought us to the point where there can be no federal initiatives. The discord has empowered the governors in each state to essentially veto any federal program that touches their borders. We caught a glimpse of this when states refused to take unemployment compensation funds. That harmed their own constituents and, in a perfect world, the political fall-out would be that the people of the state would vote them out. But their resistance to the good government help did not harm the entire country except as it exposed us as a people unwilling to care for the least among us.
Now this gubernatorial veto power is threatening to undo a great project that would benefit our entire country.
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a new high-speed rail (HSR) iniitiative was funded. This project would benefit us by creating a transportation system that used fewer automobiles thereby reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and harmful CO2 emissions. The project was both popular (62% in a survey said that they would use HSR) and an excellent way to support and create jobs over the next 6 years.
Now we find out that newly minted Tea Party governors plan to kill the project:
As Republican governors take over several key states in the country, several high speed rail projects are on the brink of being canceled.
With the exception of California, major high speed rail initiatives in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida are up in limbo right now.
A national high-speed rail system needs to run through all the states. Imagine an interstate highway system that turned into dirt roads when it reached the Wisconsin border or the Ohio border or Florida.
Of course, these governors are being short-sighted. The HSR will bring jobs, some temporary and some permanent. It will energize commerce by allowing quicker connections for business travellers between major cities. The communities where the new railroad stations will be built would benefit. But these governors are terrified of the power of the Tea Party-fueled electorate and the corporate money that can provide unlimited gasoline for that movement.
I hope that the federal government, starting with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, uses everything in it’s power to stop these governors from vetoing a federal project that benefits the entire United States. If they are allowed to do that, red states and blue states will be not just a turn of phrase but a factor in how we can get from here to there.
And another blow to the dream of These United States.