Look out your window and count the trees. Now visualize that landscape with every other tree removed. It’s a sad picture.
In the early 1930’s, due to major deforestation, our nation faced that problem. Franklin Delano Roosevelt fixed it. According to Douglas Brinkley’s new book – Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America – FDR’s Civilian Conservation Core (CCC) planted fifty percent of America’s current tree population. Unemployed men planted 3 billion – yes billion – trees across the country. Today’s federal and state governments are too polarized to address such important issues.
FDR wasn’t without opposition. The Republican Party hated The New Deal. They argued the Federal government overreached and invested in programs they shouldn’t be concerned with, though the CCC uniquely enjoyed bipartisan support. FDR’s CCC was successful because the majority of Congress and Americans agreed that trees are generally good and deforestation is generally bad. Both parties understood the negative impacts of deforestation and the positive impacts of putting young men to work.
If introduced in today’s politics, a program like the CCC would be doomed. The prevailing political climate – especially on the right – demands candidates do more than oppose government spending on issues like the environment. Candidates and representatives must disagree with science, with math, and – in many cases – with common sense. Regardless of how learned our society has become, the halls of Congress drain this knowledge from our leaders’ minds and force them to contradict basic principals taught in middle school texts.
Issues are so polarized that voters take nonsensical positions for the sake of opposition. In time, they start believing their nonsensical positions are factual. Greenhouse gases are fine. Pollution is okay. Math is wrong.
With such polarization, could today’s 114th Congress and our voters agree that trees are generally good? I doubt it.