Maryann Tobin

A hundred years ago on Apr 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic changed the way the world looks at the age-old war between technology, economics, and nature. That war is still being fought in the present day economic and social agendas of American politics, it has just taken on a slightly different form.

It is clear now that there were a number of factors contributing to the disaster that took the lives of more than 1,700 Titanic passengers on that fateful, icy-cold April night. However, the fundamental cause of the Titanic disaster was ultimately the result of the poor decisions of the Captain.

America's current brand of radical right-wing conservatism in the Republican Party parallels the fundamental elements of the Titanic disaster in policy and ideology. Turning a blind eye to sensibility and integrity to favor financial profit or personal gain can and will inevitably lead to disaster.

As Captain Edward Smith sailed in rapid pursuit of a Trans-Atlantic speed record, he ignored warnings of icebergs ahead. Smith did not believe the great Titanic could ever sink. Then she hit the iceberg. Three hours later, the largest, most luxurious ocean liner ever built was on its way to the ocean floor in pieces.

The Titanic didn't sink just because she hit an iceberg. She sank, in part, because engineers for the White Star Line cut corners on quality when building her, and they hid it in a place were the passengers wouldn't see it.

The chambers inside Titanic's sectioned hull were designed to keep her afloat in the event of a disaster by containing potential flooding only to damaged sections. But in order to save money, a lower quality material was substituted on the bolts that held those chambers together. When the massive ship brushed the tip of the iceberg, the bolts failed and the “unsinkable Titanic” did indeed sink.

The concept of cutting corners on quality to save money is not a new one, and it continues to this day in various forms. While some of the byproducts are subtle, like cancer from chemical pollution decades later, other disastrous results are sudden and obvious, like the 2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill. As with Titanic, the ultimate cause was hidden deep inside the structural design, far from the the eyes of the public. Time revealed that the largest oil spill in U.S. history happened because BP used cost cutting measures on the well casing cement and blowout preventer.

It would be foolish and inaccurate to say that politics is not a major influence on everything from the environment, to whether or not human beings get needed medical care. However, the difference between conservative and progressive ideologies is where the next profit-driven disaster lives.

In the 2012 election arena, the Republican Party has promised to lay the ground work for future disasters by further dismantling both the social and economic safety measures of modern American society. Profits before people is their motto. The more that is hidden from public view, the more dangerous the agenda is, and that was the same pursuit of the White Star Line builders, when they used inferior bolts to hold Titanic together.

Today, America is held together by increasingly fragmented ideologies – weak bolts, if you will. The Republicans want to remove as many bolts as they can in the name of their farcical agenda of smaller government. But at some point there will not be enough “bolts” left to hold the ship together.

Radical and unbalanced budget cuts with a decreased source of revenue can quickly result in economic and social disaster. Such an upheaval could only be blamed on the “Captains” of the political party that promoted the policy in the first place.

The “iceberg” the conservative Republican Party is selling to the American public is an economic platform of full scale corporate deregulation, along with a take from the poor and give it to the rich attitude that is morally wrong and culturally dangerous. But that is because fundamentally, the Republican Party does not believe in an economically balanced ideology. The results will be the same as it was on Titanic: There were only enough lifeboats for the First Class passengers, and most of the Second and Third Class passengers who were left to fend for themselves drowned.

America needs enough life boats for everyone, not just the First Class passengers.


If you like writing about U.S. politics and the 2012 campaign, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.