I'm sick of inter-party animosity. I'm tired of progressives who won't listen to a person who identifies as conservative. I'm tired of conservatives who won't listen to a liberal.
How unlikely is it, anyway, that either the classical liberal or conservative ideologies provides the best policy solution for every situation? Doesn't it make sense that liberal ideology works best in some places and conservative works best in others?
Wouldn't it be best, therefore, if liberals and conservatives began to talk and to actually look for and encourage the best of each other's ideas? As long as the Republican and Democratic parties are so invested in winning for winning's sake, the people lose.
And this is never more true than in the case of the upcoming treaty on climate change. In December, representatives of the nations of the world will gather in Copenhagen to agree on a solution to global warming. As the first in a series of articles on COP 15--the 15th meeting of the parties of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change--in the Independent says:
Between 10,000 and 15,000 officials, advisers, diplomats, campaigners and media personnel from nearly 200 countries, almost certainly joined by limousine-loads of heads of state and government from America's President Barack Obama down are expected to meet in the Danish capital in one of the most significant gatherings in history.
It goes on:
All the world's major governments, including the once-sceptical administration of the US President George Bush, now formally accept that temperature rises have already begun, are likely if unchecked to prove disastrous for human civilization, and are being caused by emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from our power plants, factories and motor vehicles.
But if all the major governments now accept it, getting them to agree on how to tackle it still seems a very long way off indeed. The essential problem, to use the jargon, is burden-sharing. We know the world has to cut its CO2 emissions drastically, and soon. But which countries are to cut them, by how much?
Now here's my point: Even if the administrations of all the countries of the world manage to come to an agreement, the resulting treaty will still have to be ratified. Here in the United States, that means that 66 Senators will have to vote for it.
And guess what? The Democrats only 59 votes--and that's only if you count the two independents who tend to ally with them. That means that, in order for the United States to ratify the next climate treaty, at least seven Republican Senators will have to be persuaded to vote for it.
The entire world depends on the United States' ability to bury its political hatchets. Unless the objections of those seven prospective Senators and their constituents are overcome, the worst effects of climate change will not be averted.
What does that mean? That we, as a nation, are urgently going to have to learn to talk. And, perhaps more importantly, to listen.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.