An article over at Forbes attempts to answer the question “why don’t greens and progressives embrace nuclear power as a solution to global warming?” Some who actually think about things do, but they are few, and they are typically ignored. The article suggests the conventional wisdom, with which I concurred, is that much of the resistance is simple ignorance and a culture of “nuclear” being a bogeyman. It then challenges that wisdom, positing that the reason may have more to do with an “appeal to nature” fallacy, that there’s some sort of idealism or romanticism in the concept of wind and solar power, and that’s enough to make people choose willful blindness to the many negative realities. And, enough to make them dismiss nuclear, even though, from a green’s perspective, it’s the perfect energy source. The author then goes on to discuss how the Green New Deal is a proxy for every progressive fantasy in history, but lets leave that for another day.

I find the “natural” assertion compelling, but incomplete. I think there’s an additional factor at play, in that people would rather “be right” than “get it right.” People prefer their initial ideas win and their first plans be implemented than “compromise” on an alternative that achieves the same ends, especially when that compromise challenges long-held but flawed or incorrect beliefs and views, and especially when that compromise gives their ideological foes something that they’ve been advocating.

In other words, many want the victory more than the result. As Arnold-as-Conan observed, they want:

To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

This is the state of politics today. I’ve often commented on these pages that neither “side” in the current political scrum wants to grant an inch, lest it be trumpeted by the other side as a victory. This stands in the way of real, positive change, and not just in energy/climate policy. We see it in the immigration debate, where it was so important not to give Trump his stupid wall that an opportunity to leverage massive gains was abandoned. We see it in the “reproductive rights” debate, where the obvious alternative to forcing religious objectors to pay for birth control: making The Pill over-the-counter without a prescription, isn’t being seriously considered.

Then, there are the issues where the two sides’ positions stand in opposition. Abortion is one. Health insurance is another. Marijuana. And yet, there are “compromise” positions available on all of these and more. Positions that aren’t palatable to either side, but would be an improvement over the status quo.

Yet, the only place we find political progress is in matters that are mostly “consensus” to begin with, such as criminal justice reform, opioids (I think that consensus is wrong, but it was nevertheless a consensus).

In my research for this article, I came across a report that “enacted bills with bipartisan support” are at a 20 year high. The article, however, defines “bipartisan” as having at least one Democrat and one Republican co-sponsor, which is a far cry from asserting that these bills passed with strong support from both parties. Given the hard-tribal loyalty demands placed on politicians by the parties and their activists, even one “defection” may be enough to warrant note, but most political observers know what I’m talking about here: victory is more important than success.

So, half the partisans cheer and half sky-scream every time some political battle concludes, but nothing gets fixed.

Our broken political system is a direct product of our broken priorities. When we stop hating each other so much that we’d rather leave things broken, just to ensure the other side doesn’t get a bread crumb, then maybe we’ll see politicians acting as they should.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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