So what’s the point of all this ranting, anyway?
Henry Kissinger, who is a very famous guy, once wrote a book entitled, Does America Need a Foreign Policy? Now, that’s a very interesting question, and if I were his history teacher I probably would have given him an A just for asking, even though I don’t really know the answer. (I suspect he does, though.) Some day, I plan to join the ranks of heads of state, academics, intellectuals, and Muppets who have read Kissinger. Like this:
The reason I bring this up is not because Henry Kissinger has anything to do with the environment, but because the recent political upheaval in the United States has posed that very same question to the public. Except that instead of being about foreign policy, they’re asking it about a wide range of other topics. With the rise of the far-right wing conservatives and this movement called the Tea Party (I don’t know if you people have heard of it, but people here in Washington seem to talk about it a lot), there is a lot of people who are fundamentally questioning the existence of certain government functions. Right now, the collective entity of the conservative movement is taking a look at the size, shape, function, spending habits, and probably even the color of many government agencies, and asking “Why?”
Which (dyed-in-the-wool liberals kill me for saying this) I fundamentally believe is an important process. Without rolling out every single cliché about this being the 21st century, I will simply state that our lives and our government are quite complicated these days. It wasn’t Obama that brought change – the change was already happening. It’s happening on its own as a function of population growth, technological advancements, political demands, social progress, and scientific discoveries. The U.S. is in a period of transition. The bubble of the 90’s burst, painfully, in the Great Recession. Many of the things that we grew up fundamentally believing: the strength of the housing market, the invincibility of the dot-com era, and even the economic dominance of the U.S. are now at stake. We have to adapt ourselves to a world that is shifting constantly with new technologies, new paradigms, and a new international order. The question is, how?
At times of rapid change, there are always questions. The process of questioning is something that we all go through at various points in our lives – most notably those of transition. It’s sort of like when you move, or you start a new job, and you find yourself going through every piece of clothing in your closet – trying them on, seeing what works and what doesn’t, seeing what still fits, and what you’ve (ahem) outgrown. But – to continue the analogy perhaps to a painful extent – that doesn’t mean that you throw everything in your closet away. So, we’re going through our collective American closet (better yet, let’s make it a refrigerator – oh look, I just found some kale, I wonder if it’s still good…) and asking “Do we really need this?”
Which brings me back to where I originally started (sort of): Does America need an environmental policy?
That, dear readers, is the root of this little spinach tree that we’re trying to grow here. It is the bed of greenery on which we will make a delicious salad out of all our subsequent conversations. Yes, it’s a very basic question to be asking, but if you don’t remember why you’re doing something, it’s virtually impossible to know what to do, or how to do it.
Therefore, we introduce to you a series of posts, which will be far less masterful than Kissinger, but far crunchier. We offer you, in several installments, our justification for why America needs an environmental policy. And, I think any of you sipping your oolong or Earl Grey or British Ceylon out there will be surprised to see that no, our goal is not to eliminate jobs, stop businesses, and violate your fundamental freedoms. I think you’ll be shocked to see just how much we have in common when it comes to basic goals.