Bob Herbert echoes the frustration many have felt with Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s decision to scuttle the plan to build a much-needed tunnel connecting New Jersey to New York City:
The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It’s losing its soul. It’s speeding down an increasingly rubble-strewn path to a region where being second rate is good enough.
The railroad tunnel was the kind of infrastructure project that used to get done in the United States almost as a matter of routine. It was a big and expensive project, but the payoff would have been huge. It would have reduced congestion and pollution in the New York-New Jersey corridor. It would have generated economic activity and put thousands of people to work. It would have enabled twice as many passengers to ride the trains on that heavily traveled route between the two states.
Where I disagree with Herbert is his use of “we” when a more descriptive pronoun is appropriate. For instance:
No one can accuse the governor of New Jersey of being a visionary. But his stumbling and bumbling and his inability to chart a clear path to a better future is, frankly, just the latest example of the dismal leadership that Americans have endured for many years. Where once we were the innovators, the pathfinders, the model for the rest of the world, now we just can’t seem to get it done.
We can’t put the population to work, or get the kids through college, or raise the living standards of the middle class and the poor. We can’t rebuild the infrastructure or curb our destructive overreliance on fossil fuels.
You see, it’s not all of us. Some of us, who happen to be Democrats and even, Intelligent Designer forbid, liberals, have pushed for improving education (as opposed to improving the bottom line of for-profit education companies), raising living standards, moving away from fossil fuels, and rebuilding our infrastructure.
Others of us–movement conservatives, Tea Buggerers, recidivist segregationists, and John Birchers, and selfish well-off people–have consistently opposed these efforts. One reason they have done so is because they have taken advantage of structural faults, such as the filibuster in the Senate. The other reason is that there are too many people who have cast stupid votes.
Herbert wrote a very good column–and his criticism of Christie is dead on target–but it isn’t all of us who are failing. Only some of us.
And by lumping them into “we”, we let them off the hook for their failures.