While Arnold Schwarzenegger departs Sacramento and Jerry Brown’s brave new administration begins in earnest, and Mayor Bloomberg is buried hip deep in ten feet of global warming, in his column at the L.A. Times, Jonah Goldberg writes, that Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger “were deemed heroic for scrapping ideology to solve problems. But eschewing ‘politics’ for its own sake isn’t necessarily courageous or wise:”
Both Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg were deemed heroic for abandoning ideology to focus on pragmatic problem-solving. Bloomberg has made this something of a crusade. He helped launch the laughingstock group No Labels, which seeks to get the “politics out of problem-solving.”
But people disagree about how to solve problems, and they may disagree about what is a problem in the first place. In a democratic republic, we hash out these disagreements through this thing called “politics.” Getting politics out of problem-solving is synonymous with getting democracy out of politics.
The same goes for ideology. If you agree with a solution, it doesn’t seem ideological. But if you disagree with the proposed solution (or that there’s a problem at all), the remedy might look very ideological indeed. Given Time’s political agenda, it saw Schwarzenegger’s decision to spend his political energies on the Global Warming Solutions Act as an exercise in “pragmatism.”
This was ludicrous because California can no more do anything substantive about climate change than it can halt Iran’s nuclear program.
In other words, even if you’re on the climate change bandwagon, couldn’t you say that the governor of the state with the nation’s worst credit rating, a budget crisis more unbelievable than the plot of “Twins,” a cratering manufacturing base and famously dysfunctional schools was making an ideologically blinkered decision to make global warming a priority, particularly given that the benefits of the law for California — and the world — will be somewhere between symbolic and trivial, while the costs will probably be huge?
Meanwhile, Bloomberg, who before snowmageddon reportedly took seriously the idea of being carried to the Oval Office by a groundswell of support from Americans who don’t believe in labels, thinks it’s not ideological to dedicate much of his mayoralty to fighting global warming by clogging the streets with bike lanes and hybrid taxis.
As Jonah concludes, “Oh, and New Yorkers believe that one of the mayor’s top responsibilities is to make sure the snow is cleared so ambulances can reach those in need and so everyone can get to work. Mayors who spend more energy fighting ‘labels’ in our politics than clearing the snow are rewarded with some labels too colorful for a family newspaper. But ‘ideologue’ works as a substitute.”
Back on the west coast, here’s a photo from Brown’s swearing-in yesterday that speaks volumes of California’s past, present and future woes:Former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson is conspicuously absent from this photo, perhaps in fear that the Chernobyl-like stench of Epic Fail amongst his three successors was contagious.