One of my favorite things to write about in reference to today’s Republican Party is the grounding of their moves in ideology, as if we’ve not just had eight years of failure, mounds of problems in this country, and a realigning election changing the electoral landscape. The GOP would rather rehash old arguments regarding abortion, same-sex marriage, or other topics on personal morality than give a thought to doing anything about issues that actually affect the common good. Wouldn’t you know that the Republicans are providing us with yet another example of why they’re not up to the challenge of leading this country out of the mess their party created.

As the swine flu story continues to develop, we know a few things. First, in Mexico, approximately 81 people have died from this flu, with about 374 being hospitalized. Masses and other public events have been canceled, along with classes at all schools and universities. Masks were distributed, with public officials asking Mexican citizens to change the way they greet each other. Other countries have also been battling the swine flu. Canada has six confirmed cases, while Spain, New Zealand, and Israel are all in the process of confirming various cases in their countries. In the United States, 20 cases had been confirmed in five states. The U.S. government has issued a “public health emergency,” which actually sounds more threatening than the situation might warrant here, but such a declaration is necessary in order to move the stockpiled medications and monies to afflicted areas. Nevertheless, the situation has been described as serious. U.S. military officials and aviation officials both made clear that while it’s not a time to panic, they’re monitoring the situation extremely seriously.

But as AMERICAblog notes, the proper people to deal with this crisis within the United States aren’t there. In fact, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security had to announce the “public health emergency” at the White House press briefing today. Why? Because the GOP is filibustering the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, the department containing the Center for Disease Control. And because Sebelius has not yet been confirmed by the Senate, the CDC does not yet have a director, which Sebelius would appoint once confirmed. In fact, the Acting Secretary of HHS is a Bush appointment, Charles Johnson, who has significant experience in… accounting. The kicker here is that the filibuster is based strictly on ideology. Because Sebelius is pro-woman, Senate Republicans, held hostage by right-wing anti-choice advocacy groups, don’t have the fortitude to allow an up or down vote. Even in the middle of a public health emergency threatening the nation.

In a post I wrote in early January discussing Obama’s announcement of his Chief Performance Officer, I cited something Nathaniel Whittmore wrote regarding the Millennials’ preference for pragmatism. (Nathaniel is the founding director of the Center for Global Engagement at Northwestern University and an adviser for change.org.) Unfortunately the link to that post is now dead, but I’ll reproduce what was written below.

Where it leaves us is as the inheritors of a tradition of American pragmatism, a skeptical idealism that believes deeply in our power to make the world a better place, but with the ability to learn, adapt, and if necessary, reject approaches to creating positive change that don’t deliver on their promise.

It is this pragmatism that gets us excited about new movements in the world of philanthropy and business like social enterprise and social entrepreneurship. And it is this pragmatism, I argued earlier this week, that is one of the most important (and overlooked) elements of our support for Obama’s candidacy.

It’s not just that his age is closer to ours than it is to John McCain’s, or that we’re seduced by every platitude about hope and change that come our way (shock!). It’s not even only that his programs – including a responsible end to the war in Iraq, new opportunities to serve our country and reduce the cost of education, and investments in cleaner energy that will be instrumental in improving our environment and our economy – are manifestly better for us.

In every measure, Obama is thoughtful, pragmatic, and fiercely committed. His life and politics embrace and reconcile what came before him to produce a deliberative, measured approach to governing that is not ideological, but at the same time not afraid or ashamed of big ideas and the power of belief. In this we see our aspirations for ourselves, we see our future, and we see America. And on Tuesday, we’re putting him over the top.

When we examine “Generation We,” we see why Millennials have fallen for Barack Obama’s politics — and why they’re so disenchanted with today’s Republican Party. From Eric Greenberg’s book Generation We:

Millennials are inclined to extend this holistic mode of thinking beyond the natural world and into the social, economic, and political realms. When discussing problems in our focus groups, the Millennials routinely brushed aside the boundaries between the government, business, non-profit, academic, and civic worlds. They are impatient with dogmatic or ideological “rules” about the proper spheres of action for various kinds of organizations, and instead are accustomed to thinking pragmatically about how social groups and institutions can cooperate in search of solutions that serve society as a whole. (106)

Emphasis added. A group of young people has grown up and watched eight years of our country going through one of its most tumultuous declines in history, seeing a president and his administration both fail to manage and cause this downturn, seeing said president’s party comply in driving the nation into a ditch. Millennials already have no confidence whatsoever that Republicans have their interests in mind. And now, in yet another crisis situation, Republicans are prepared to place their special interests over the interest of the country. Once more, ideology trumps the common good.

Republicans are more concerned about what the Concerned Women for America and the Susan B. Anthony List feel than protecting the well-being of the United States. How’s that for patriotism?

Advertisements