UPDATE: William Rivers Pitts says it better than I ever could: Washing Away the Conservative Movement.
UPDATE2: Paul Krugman also says it well: Killed by Contempt “But the federal government’s lethal ineptitude wasn’t just a consequence of Mr. Bush’s personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good.”
You might think that New Orleans represents the ultimate failure of right-wing ideology, but you’d be wrong – in fact, it is a propaganda triumph of the utmost proportions, and it is already too late for us on the progressive left to stop (and in fact, in many ways, we’ve inadvertently contributed to it, in our wrath over the failure of the Federal government under the Bush Administration to respond effectively).
Why? Simple: the ideological end-game of the ultra-right is to destroy, by any means necessary, the public’s faith and confidence in the effectiveness of government, in it’s ability to execute effectively, to accomplish anything of significance, to provide aid and comfort to the affilicted.
By any of these measures, New Orleans has accomplished that – and even more so, has provided a giant stage for propaganda set pieces demonstrating the effectiveness of private sector relief agencies and individual initiative in contrast to slow moving, incompetent, bureaucratic government.
I’ve noticed that every time Bush does one of his photo ops, he’s directing people, not to a government run facility/relief service/agency (school, national guard station, etc.) but to the “Salvation Army” (a “faith-based” private sector relief agency)?
Where have Americans been asked to send donations by FEMA? Private sector relief agencies. Who have you seen on T.V. asking for help? Private sector relief agencies. Is there ANY vehicle through which each of us, as individual citizens, can contribute to helping our GOVERNMENT address the needs of the people of New Orleans? No. Has anyone even noticed this… or does it seem so utterly natural and appropriate to send your donations to the Red Cross and other private sector relief agencies that you don’t even stop to question why this is the sole vehicle for personal charity?
Has the President asked for any new resources (i.e. temporary tax increases) to help finance the reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast? No. (in fact, the Republicans have put a tax cut for the super-rich up for a vote instead)
After watching the catastrophe in New Orleans, do you have less confidence in the ability of our government to respond to crisis? Do you trust that any help will arrive from the government in a timely fashion if there is a large scale disaster in your area?
UPDATE: Plain and simple – this is the outcome the conservatives wanted. Even now, they are writing editorials saying that the real source of the problem is federal flood control programs and that the real solution is privatization.