Joe Henderson: American Exceptionalism not good in this case - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: American Exceptionalism not good in this case

The words American Exceptionalism are generally accepted to mean the good ol’ USA stands alone among the nations of the world.

Supporters say that is a good thing, and for the most part that is true. The freedoms we take for granted here aren’t available in many other corners of the planet.

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But, alas, those words also stand for something dire. America is now the only nation in the world that isn’t part of the Paris Climate Accord. There is nothing exceptional about that.

That became fact last week when Syria – SYRIA! – said it would sign the pact that seeks global solutions to the effects of greenhouse gases and other factors that are causing the wild fluctuations in our weather.

We know the consequences of that better than almost any other state in the nation. The tip of the planetary climate sword has struck at Florida the last few years with increasingly deadly results.

Multiple powerful hurricanes hit us, bringing death and billions of dollars in damage. And forecasters said the other day that another La Nina is forming in the Pacific. That likely means a warmer, dryer winter here, which will increase the chances for widespread wildfires like we had this spring.

With that in mind, the Miami Herald reported that Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota just repeated his plea for the United States to remain part of the Paris pact.

In May, ahead of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the global agreement, Buchanan tried to “strongly encourage” the U.S. to keep its commitment to stay in. He repeated that Monday, calling on the president to change his mind.

Good idea.

Opponents scoff at volumes of evidence asserting that the problems are man-made – because, you know, those smart-aleck scientists think they know everything.

Buchanan is not the only Republican who believes the U.S. should join the other nations of the world in this agreement. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose 26th district covers parts of South Florida, including the Everglades, also has been vocal about staying in the accord.

A statement on his official webpage reads: “While we have made great strides in protecting these ecosystems, we must acknowledge the direct threats posed by rising sea levels and the erosion of our coastal communities. A crucial step in the right direction is moving past the debate of whether or not climate change is real and towards solutions that will mitigate its detrimental effect on our communities.”

The Republican Party has been mostly aligned with the scoffers on this issue, but that always seemed like a position of political pandering instead of statesmanship. It’s significant that these two GOP members who broke ranks are from districts that are in particularly vulnerable coastal areas.

Politics goes out the window when flood waters are coming into your living room.

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. I covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. I also was the City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. I served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. I have numerous local, state and national writing awards. I have been married to my wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and have two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

1 Comment

  1. While his writing is not as consistently weird as is Daniel Ruth’s, Henderson and his penchant for sloppy solecism can produce some frankly grotesque columns, as the above shows. If he understood the logic of American exceptionalism let alone appreciated its beauty, he would avoid oddities like these. Put simply, the term American exceptionalism does not refer to the moment-by-moment vagaries of policy that decorate the great sweep of American history. Far from it. Instead, it refers to a foundational principle of the greatest Republic since Rome–a principle that impels true American leaders like Trump to resist being led around by huffy European elites. The difference is, well, it is one of the greatest things about modern history.

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