I spent most of the day either at rehearsal or learning about Stonewall Jackson. S.C. Gwynne has written another captivating book. I’m not far enough into it to feel that I can talk about it, but there is no question that Jackson was a “unique” individual. Today was one of those days that slipped through my grasp. One minute I’m drinking coffee and the next the sun is going down.
After this recent election, which seems to defy reason, I have been looking for answers about our current political climate in our history and culture. How did we arrive at this moment in time? Take climate change for instance, something for which Obama just made a great step forward with his deal with China. (I am still reading up on our deal with China for more specifics.) The fact that climate change is occurring is scientific fact. There is some uncertainty as to the exact outcome, but don’t get confused by the word uncertainty. Think about if a large rainstorm came in. You know that the ground will be soaked, but you can’t say for certain if the big oak tree out front is going to fall over. That however, doesn’t mean it is not raining. Anyway, so science and all reason point to climate change happening, yet not only does a portion of the populace not believe it is real, but we have elected officials that are not scientists, that claim they know more than scientists, going to be in charge of parts of our environmental policy.
Now there is no doubt that these people are for the most part bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. You don’t have to be Columbo to deduce that. You also don’t have to be Columbo to figure out that the regions with the most jobs in the fossil fuel industry are also the regions that are most against us doing anything about climate change. Yet I don’t think it is as simple as a mere question of economics.
From the very beginning of our country there is an element that is against any kind of centralized authority. Part of our country also puts faith above reason. I just read in the Stonewall Jackson book last night that in 1850 Florida only had 85,000 inhabitants and half of them were slaves. It is hard to imagine that modern Florida, with Disney World and Miami and the countless beach resorts, was created in 164 years, which is the lifespan of two humans. Go to Miami and think about how two lives ago it was a desolate swamp. As far as civilization goes our country is but a baby.
I am still thinking about all of this myself. I wanted to ask those of you that read this a rhetorical question. How does our unique American history and culture affect the way in which we think politically? Places that were settled by different ethnic and religious groups often ended up quite different. Places that had to subdue the land and keep people oppressed often ended up quite different than places that were booming with industry. All of these things factor into who we are now. How so?