Andy Harris: In Denial by Al Sikes


Few things in life are certain. I am certain of that.

Risk is endemic to life and the more threatening the risk the more likely we are to have insurance. Automobile, health, and home are just the most common policies. Yet at the start of most years (health excluded) we do not anticipate making a claim.

One of the greatest threats we face we cannot insure against. We cannot protect ourselves from political risk; although the ballot box can be used to limit our exposure.

Politicians are forever risking our future by appealing to our present interests. The long tail effects are particularly egregious. We now shoulder trillions of dollars of unfunded or underfunded government promises (debt), for example. It is not as if we start government programs with harmful intentions; but, the fiscal harm rarely concerns us. And we find when it comes to fiscal matters the failures are bi-partisan.

The importance of the planet, however, is orders of magnitude more serious than our debt to GDP ratio. Yet, Andy Harris, our doctor in residence at the nation’s Capitol, contests most policies aimed at mitigating climate change and its effects. When asked why, he says he is “uncertain” about human contribution to the changing weather.

Even though the overwhelming scientific viewpoint is contrary to Congressman Harris, I do not fault his uncertainty. There is always room for contrarians; they put the prevailing wisdom to the test. It is an honorable stance, if honestly arrived at.

My problem with Harris is his cavalier approach to uncertainty. When one is uncertain about the prospects of conditions that would produce a calamitous harm, the need for insurance is essential, not discretionary.

Yet, the Congressman translates his uncertainty into a posture of denial. Denial in the face of uncertainty is problematic. A man of science should be pushing for research on how we can limit our exposure. A conservative should be cautious, not reckless.

Maryland’s First Congressional District needs a Congressman who approaches climate change as an explorer, not a propagandist. When candidate positions on scientific or fiscal questions forego fact-based inquiry and action, the candidate should be allowed to make decisions for him or herself, not for the public.

Trump and the Republican Party

Several years ago it would have been difficult to imagine voters, many of whom self-identify as Christian conservatives, waving off Trump’s latest troubles as “not about Russian collusion.”

This reaction miniaturizes the Republican Party. Trump stains the Party in profound ways. Consider, how many voters outside of hardcore tribal ones will be emotionally or cerebrally pulled toward a collection of people who genuflect when Trump’s name is mentioned?

America’s conservative Party is committing suicide. People who value liberty and revere our constitution need to begin, right now, to help select candidates who can lead the GOP.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Letters to Editor

  1. Judith Tinelli says

    I completely agree with Al Sikes’ op ed concerning Andy Harris’ head-in-the-sand approach to climate change. That said, I do not agree with his going on to say that “Maryland’s First Congressional District needs a Congressman who…”.

    Let’s get with the times, please. We need a “Member of Congress who,” man or woman!

    Judy Tinelli

  2. Susan Gilbert says

    I’m willing to spot Mr. Sikes’ gender error; perhaps my hide was thickened by being, many years ago, one of the few females in my law school class. And, in this instance, the two leading candidates are male.

    The substance and importance of Mr. Sikes’ message are the right focus.

  3. Alan Boisvert says

    Harris is a moron just like Trump. How and who ever voted for such a do-nothing?

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