While the Republican Party has styled itself as the great defender of “national security,” Mother Nature has once again proven the opposite. It seems that everywhere Republicans are in office, they have either created or exacerbated dangers to public well-being.

The flooding in New England this past week was, by all accounts, a natural disaster. Entire towns were inundated. Thousands of people had to flee their homes. The flooding caused millions of dollars worth of damage. Some people drowned in cars that had stalled on flooded roads.

But the people of this region were lucky.

An example: the Spicket Falls dam in Methuen, Mass., nearly gave way. If that had happened, Methuen and surrounding areas would have been devastated. Fortunately, although a portion collapsed May 15, the dam ultimately held.

The truth of the matter is that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts knows next to nothing about how safe its dams are, nor does it even have an up-to-date inventory of them.

This was one of the findings of a report released by the state Legislature May 16.

The state, which is not even sure how many dams it has, only has seven full-time inspectors overseeing dam safety.

The agency overseeing such matters asked for about $1 million in funding and additional staff. The staffing request was refused, and only about half of the funding requested was provided. Who made the decision? Republican Gov. (and reported presidential hopeful) Mitt Romney.

The Legislature’s report says the agency has long been inadequately funded, especially over the past 10 years — all of that time under Republican governors.

Over the 15 years that Republicans have held the governorship, dam safety has deteriorated. It was only luck that it did not lead to the destruction of Methuen this week. But luck can only hold out for so long.

Massachusetts is an example of the Republican right’s agenda of spending money on tax breaks for the rich and war in Iraq, while disregarding our country’s critical infrastructure and human needs. Massachusetts was partially spared, but New Orleans was not.

If we want security, this agenda has to change.

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