Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina’s Political Danger

Now that the worst appears to be over, and evacuations are running smoothly, talk has turned to investigations and fault. Thankfully the racism finger pointing appears to be done with as well. However, the worst fall out could still be to come.

Let begin by acknowledging my fault. In an earlier post, I did criticize the President for a slow reaction. I have since learned that I probably was mistaken as to the speed of aid delivered. FEMA had coordinated with the Red Cross, who had trucks of water, food, and other supplies standing by. They were prevented from entering the city and going to the Superdome and Convention Center by the Louisiana department of Homeland Security. This is NOT a branch of the Federal Department of Homeland Security, thus freeing Bush of blame and placing it solely on Louisiana. I guess I owe Matt and President Bush an apology. Also some thanks to James and WoCoFunk for putting me back on the straight and narrow. However, I do still think that President Bush should have gone back to the White House quicker (he waited a full day after the levees broke before returning), and addressed the nation from there. Symbolism is important, and while Crawford may be equipped to do as much as the White House, Crawford is not the nation’s capital. That is about as far as I am willing to blame President Bush with what I know now.

James also brings up good points about Federalism to which I would like to add my voice. The new danger of Katrina could be more power going to the National Government. Soon people will be demanding FEMA have more authority to shove aside state governments to make sure help is given. It is becoming more and more obvious that the governor of Louisiana made some pour decisions. She would not let the Red Cross bring food, water, and supplies to the Superdome and Convention Center. She did not give her National Guard enough authority, she turned down help from President Bush. The list gets longer and longer. So many people will claim that the National government should by-pass the states and act directly with its own authority. Our “conservative” President has already showed that this power grab is his mode of operation as he has done such things as Federalize airport security, create a department of Homeland Security, and accept the idea of an Intelligence Tzar.

Yet, should not the lesson of Katrina be the less National government involvement the better? Maybe the real lesson here is that who we elect to our State offices matters. Is it possible that a commission investigating the disaster will find that the laws are not bad, the set up is good, the people of Louisiana just elected an incompetent, and have suffered from years of Legislatures who never revised evacuations plans, spent money on non-essentials, and did not improve the levees? The growing reach of the National government has made us not care about local and state politics. Off year elections get little attention, and hardly have a turnout at all. Can you name your state representative? What about your state senator? These are the people that make the laws for your state. These laws played a major role in the recent disaster. Katrina’s legacy ought to be a lesson about paying attention to local and state elections, but it will probably be a new department and increased power for the National government. Well, if it worked for Amtrak . . .


Matt Powell said...

Apology accepted! Good post. I liked the earlier post too, even though you disagreed with me. I can take it :)