Armageddon, it seems, takes many forms. For much of the world, the battle for the end times has begun with extreme and debilitating weather, and a rash of sudden, massive bird and fish deaths that can only be described as biblical. In New Mexico, it's taken the form of a thorough blitzkrieg routing of state agencies and boards by new Gov. Susana Martinez.
Maybe it's God's will or maybe it's nature's whimsey, but conspiracy theorists and committed liberals alike are quaking with the instinctive fear of lambs before the slaughter.
Certainly, it's delightfully ominous to have dead animals plummet to the earth as John Boehner assumes control of the newly Republican House of Representatives and initiates an agenda of absurd hypocrisy. Boehner's crew claims commitment to the citizens' need for effective government, while pushing pointless, time-wasting and base-pandering legislation such as the repeal of the health care bill. They claim the need for a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility after having happily presided over the largest government expansion in history in lockstep with former President George W Bush. They claim to be helping small businesses and the middle class, while giving away the farm to big business and outsourced industries.
But most of us know that the real game as far as progressive reform takes place on a much more localized board.
This is why, in New Mexico, we're terrified. Just as liberals everywhere are seeing the consequences of not showing up to vote last November—religious fundamentalists and hard-line fanatics receiving committee postings with shocking amounts of power to control and influence legislation and policy—we're seeing the same strategies take shape in the Martinez administration. Bill Richardson may have been a glad-handing, behind-the-scenes operator and Diane Denish may have been a schoolmarmy bore, but Martinez is a holy warrior with a free-enterprise mission, and woe betide anything that stands in the way of the bottom line.
Everything is on the chopping block, except lubrication for private business. Any idea that doesn't grease the wheels of business and industry is either irrelevant or marked for death under Martinez' laser gaze. Her appointment of Harrison Schmitt to head the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department has made that agenda abundantly clear.
Schmitt's sole concession to the idea of global warming has been to admit that the planet has warmed because, obviously, we are not in an ice age. At a Jan. 6 press conference, he referred to solar energy and wind power as "so-called renewable resources," and went on to claim that they are economically infeasible.
But to see the situation on the ground in state government as a disastrous takeover by evil big-business Borg politicians being fed from the hive mind of corporatocracy is the wrong approach. What's happening right now is a good thing.
Considering you play the hand you're dealt and you dance with who brung ya, I think this is the best possible situation for advocates of progressive energy policies and developing technologies. I mean, I guess people could sit in their earthships and cry about it for the next four years, but this is a genuine call to real proactivity. To make the case for renewable energy systems' economic viability against a skeptic, you have to have a strong case. With a liberal administration, you have a de facto agreement that renewable energy is an important idea to pursue and vague, frequently token, assistance toward that end. But when you have to reveal the bottom line to people who don't believe you, you have to sharpen your mind and get your ducks in a row. You have to prove your argument.
The same is true in making the case for higher education, for the arts, for progressive, innovation-based economic development—we've spent too much time under the wing of ostensibly friendly forces and too little time marshalling the data to prove genuine value. Nothing gets done in these United States because it's the right thing to do; it gets done because it's the profitable thing to do. We don't have to like it, but it's about time we're forced to demonstrate that social and environmental responsibility can translate into competitive profit.
Let's take the current administration not as a threat, but as a challenge. Let's assume an intelligent force with identifiable values that is susceptible to logic. It's not the end of the world; it's just a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System.
Of course, that might not be the case—it might be the end of the world. But at least we’ll have something to do while we wait for the apocalypse.
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