New Orleans is the fulfillment of the Republican dream
George Lakoff warns that we face a serious risk of missing the real lesson of the Katrina tragedy:
The moral of Katrina is mostly being missed. It is not just a failure of execution (William Kristol), or that bad things just happen (Laura Bush). It was not just indifference by the President, or a lack of accountability, or a failure of federal-state communication, or corrupt appointments in FEMA, or the cutting of budgets for fixing levees, or the inexcusable absence of the National Guard off in Iraq. It was all of these and more, but they are the effects, not the cause.
The cause was political through and through -- a matter of values and principles. The progressive-liberal values are America's values, and we need to go back to them. The heart of progressive-liberal values is simple: empathy (caring about and for people) and responsibility (acting responsibly on that empathy). These values translate into a simple principle: Use the common wealth for the common good to better all our lives. In short, promoting the common good is the central role of government.
If, in the coming days, we focus only on the incompetence of the Bush adminstration then we are, in effect, saying that Republicans could be good leaders, just not these particular Republicans.
We must instead make the assertion that Republicanism, at its core, is an abandoment of leadership. It is a moral philosophy that says that only you can help yourself and if you fail then that is your own damn fault. If grandma drowns in the nursing home its because she wasn't strong enough to get herself out of the way of the flood in time. If your baby dies of dehydration its because you weren't strong enough to find her water in time. If you die in the coming days because of diseases floating in the waters of Lake George then its because you weren't strong enough to fight off the diseases that are just a part of life.
That is the world Republicans are selling us. That is the world that lead to New Orleans. That is the world that will lead to more New Orleans.
It wasn't incompetence. New Orleans was the direct fulfillment of the Republican plan for America.