Friday, January 14, 2005

What's the big idea?

I propose a contest for RUFNKM. No, I am NFNKY. You must answer a question: "What's the big idea?" That would be the big idea driving George Bush and his administration. Sorry, "God" and "Jesus" are not acceptable answers. We need at least 25 words. (And no, "god god god god..." is not acceptable either.)

Bush is not a practical president. He thinks long term, and he sells this vision as a strength. Consider No Child Left Behind--our education system has been in decline for a long time, and Bush argues that small bureaucratic reforms will never change anything. We need big changes, he says. And he's not finished. Perhaps he knows his big idea might fail here, but it's worth it to him to take that risk--better to try big and fail than to keep making little changes to make us feel like we're doing something.

And Social Security. Maybe he doesn't expect his plan to go through. Maybe he thinks that it's a Big Question in need of Big Answers, and he just wants to force us to do something Big about it. That's admirable. But again, it's a Big Risk, and could lead to Massive Hemorrhaging. He's willing to take that risk.

Poverty, too. Bush just proposed massive cuts in HUD's budget. The poor will certainly suffer for it, but he sees "duplicative" and "ineffective" programs (of course, we can always funnel over $1 billion to faith-based organizations). He's willing to dismantle what we consider a safety net because he thinks that net is tying us down, holding us back from grander solutions.

And the environment. And human rights. And the "culture war." And. And. And.

Foreign policy is the ultimate example of Bush's Big Idea. Today, the National Intelligence Council released a report on "long term global trends." It says that Iraq is the new Afghanistan as far as terrorist training goes. It also reports on trends--such as growing global inequality, declining American dominance in technology, and the 500-pound elephant in the room, China-- that Bush has put on the backburner in hopes that the War on Terror is going to make everything okay...eventually.

That's a big idea. He's willing to ignore most everything else presidents have traditionally concerned themselves with because one idea can fix everything. And I think this idea is so big that it's driving everything I've mentioned here--policy changes regarding the economy, domestic social problems, science and the environment, treaties, human rights, everything. It's all tied together by this Big Idea.

So we look forward to your responses: What's the big effin' idea?
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