Making People Angry Since...
I know it is difficult to realize that elections matter, and that there are literally millions of individuals with different cultures, lifestyles, beliefs and voting habits than you. This is the double edged sword of life in a representative republic, like the one we have.
Since Obama was elected, I have been trying to inform my conservative-to-right-wing friends that elections matter, and that an elected republican government is not in fact taking your country away if they were legitimately elected. It is not tyranny, it is not totalitarianism, it is not fascism. If you don't like what they are doing, there will be a national referendum (usefully called "elections") that will happen again before you know it.
You and those who believe as you do can change the government of our nation, but that is the level where you have the least individual affect. Your involvment and ability to affect change is far greater at the local level.
This has been a harder sell than I originally thought, but that's a story for another time. This story is about trying to remind my liberal to left-wing friends that there are literally millions of individuals with different cultures, lifestyles, beliefs and voting habits than them and that affects energy policy in the United States.
Because, as the Macondo disaster continues, I am apparently making people angry by suggesting in the comments section of this post that discussions concerning clean-up, redundancy, safety, and smarter production of oil are more productive than discussions regarding who should be arrested for causing the oil gusher to happen.
And as cathartic as it is to demand the arrest of the responsible parties, is there a way to make the charges stick? Even if you could get to that point, the outcome would likely be similar to any other organization facing arrests, where a few people fall on their swords to protect those at the top, and business as usual is allowed to continue.
There will be cultural shifts because of the Macondo disaster, but it will not cause the whole society of the United States to give up oil overnight, or even in a generation. We're going to keep drilling, and that's going to happen no matter who is President or Governor. Our political choices at this time are not "drill, baby, drill" vs "no drilling ever;" our choices are "drill, baby, drill" vs "drilling is catastrophically dangerous, complicated, and we'd better be very careful about how we do it, and let's see what we can do to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels."
As much as I wish we could get there quicker, I accept the terrible reality of the situation. Pragmatism and realpolitik are frustrating concepts, especially when applied to a society that is divided nearly 50/50 on every issue, and is traditionally, culturally and economically committed to unsustainable, progress-resistant and damaging development.
The long term goal is a more walkable, community-centered, train-connected society that is far less dependent on fossil fuels for power. A lot of the moves to get there will come at the local level where local citizens demand a higher standard of living and smarter development and capital improvements in their communities. That is, consequently, where involved individuals have the most power to affect change. But as that change must come culture-wide, you have to convince people it is in their best interests to make those changes.
Demanding low-probability-though-high-stakes arrests is far more inciteful and divisive than convincing, in my experience.
But that's just me. If you think you can start making those arrests, successfully prosecuting them, seizing assets et al without facing a highly counterproductive (and possibly violent) backlash, be my guest.