President Obama has just rejected a permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline -- a project that promised riches for the oil giants and an environmental disaster for the rest of us.Oh please, gag me with a spoon. What about the 600,000 miles of pipeline in the US, mostly not as carefully designed as the Keystone XL? And don't you realize, Mr. Redford, that the president is almost certainly planning to allow the pipeline to proceed, once he has got your money and your vote for opposing it?
His decision represents a victory of historic proportions for people from throughout the pipeline path and all across America who have waged an uphill, years-long fight against one of the most nightmarish fossil fuel projects of our time.
As Joel Kotkin points out, the Keystone XL decision forced the president to side with "urbanista" America against the rest of America.
There is a word for this sort of issue. It is called a "wedge" issue. The idea is to unite your side while splitting the other chaps. That's why the House Republicans put language in the two-month payroll tax cut that forced the president to make a decision on Keystone XL. Considering that the Democrats had already planned to give up on the white working class this year, it's no surprise that they went with the bigger chunk of their base: the urbanista greens rather than the suburbanista working class.
I've been saying all along: Bring it on. I'm a naturally conflict-averse chap, but I recognize that the great issues facing America have to be fought over. The reason is that, in normal times, the "urbanista" agenda of the liberal educated class gets no pushback. Mainstream media types run around boosting lefty issues, from wind and solar to "diversity" to "gay marriage," and attack anyone that disagrees with them and bigots or deniers, according to taste.
But a great election is a time when conservatives can contest in these ideological wars. Thus the perfect storm of government debt, Great Recession, climate change, ObamaCare, and energy prices create a crisis that will force the American people to confront the issues and make a choice. In normal times, when there is not a crisis, it is very difficult to push back against the liberal agenda.
In normal times, liberals present their statist agenda as caring and compassion, pretending that they are conducting a national conversation in accordance with Habermas's discourse ethic. In fact, of course, they are always playing political hardball and finding ways to silence their critics and turn the "discourse" into domination. But in normal times they manage to persuade moderates that liberals are on the side of the angels.
In crisis times, like right now, conservatives get a chance to fight back against the liberal power plays. We can argue that the "stimulus" spending and regulatory blizzard hurts ordinary Americans. We can show that ObamaCare is a lie that will ration health care to America's grandmas. And during an election conservatives can use paid media to balance the free media that supports liberal ideas.
What is really needed, of course, is for conservatives to make a Long March through the institutions so that the normal times discourse is balanced between liberal agenda and conservative agenda. That is a huge challenge because it means, for a start, neutralizing the government education complex. Then there is the liberal culture complex, the liberal foundation complex, and the liberal mainstream media.
At any rate, there's a good chance that an historic victory can be won in 2012 if President Obama is defeated and the US Senate goes Republican. The mad statist government of 2009-2010 will have educated a whole new generation of Americans to mistrust government.
Meanwhile the liberal "victory" in the fight against Big Oil should remind Americans who is in favor of reducing the cost of filling their gas tanks.