Is it possible for a society as complex and varied as America is to accomplish great things? Or will every great idea be nibbled to death by all the various people who find fault with it?
The problem with democracies where everyone has a voice is that everyone has a voice. The people who want to colonize Mars have a voice and the people who want to protect Snail Darters have a voice. This, of course, causes acrimony and dissension. Trying for consensus can bring paralysis. This was a discussion held between nations in the early 20th century. The dictatorships, Germany, Italy and the U.S.S.R. held that the democracies were weak and lazy, that you needed strong leaders to get anything accomplished. The conversation ended in a contest that two of the dictatorships lost because they attacked the third dictatorship who then allied itself with the democracies. Can large, controversial projects be completed faster in totalitarian societies? Look at what China is accomplishing right now. Eliminate dissent and you certainly streamline the process. Do I wish the United States government would model itself after the Chinese model? Or the Soviet? Or the Fascists or the Nazis? As Winston Churchill once said: Democracy is the worst possible form of government, until you look at all the other forms of government.
I would love to colonize and terraform Mars and do many other things in space and I think we will because it is a good idea and people act on good ideas sooner or later. As we speak, even with the future of NASA in disarray the the future of the solvency of great nations in doubt, lots of people are working on this problem and how to get it solved. How do we make getting into orbit lots, LOTS cheaper? How do we protect people from ionizing cosmic radiation and solar storms outside the van Allen belts? How do we turn pee into a delicious, refreshing drink over and over again? How do we turn poop into yummy food? How do we live inside a can for long periods of time without getting on each other’s nerves?
We’ve had a few shocks concerning space travel over the last half century. There aren’t any Martians or Venusians to trade with or defend ourselves against. There aren’t steamy jungles on Venus or canals on Mars. Professor Oddball and the two teenage geniuses who think he’s cool can’t put together a rocket ship to go fight Nazis on the moon. Everything is a lot more expensive than we hoped it would be. But we’ll come back. We’ll figure it out. And we’ll leave the Snail Darter his little home while we do it.