One definition of conservative is “marked by moderation or caution.” In light of that definition and clear evidence of the declining health of our planet — rising oceans clogged with plastic, dead and dying coral reefs, more and more thousands of species extinctions, north-shifting ecosystems, etc. — why are conservatives so uncautious as we continue to destroy natural habitats and spew toxins and greenhouse gases?

One reason may be in another definition: “disposed to maintain existing views, conditions or institutions.” But now the damage we are doing can no longer be rationally denied, and the attitude to maintain the status quo has become delusional, as if there were no problem.

The bitter, self-perpetuating feuding within and between political parties stands in the way of solving such problems. Obstructionism breeds obstructionism. Cooperative dialogue is perceived as a betrayal of principles and as weakness to be exploited rather than as the powerful problem-solving tool that it is.

The only way forward may be for moderate Republicans (the conservatives “marked by moderation”) and moderate Democrats to 1) recognize that they have more in common with each other than with the brittle extremists in their own parties and 2) toss divisive ideological check boxes out the window and instead form problem-solving coalitions that transcend process paralysis. So that posterity might have more reason to thank us than, as on our current course, curse us.

Robert Dow, Millcreek