After Wednesday night’s debate, I know I became one of literally millions wishing to give U.S. President Barack Obama advice, and, for that reason, I certainly do not believe that what I’m about to write has any particular importance. Having said that, here’s a brief “open letter.”
A great number of us who viewed your debate on October 3rd were astonished that you were either unwilling or unable to defend yourself vis-à-vis America’s energy policy, and thus I offer a few “talking points” for your consideration on the subject:
Every major nation on Earth is making significant investments in energy efficiency and clean energy, as this is the industry that will define leadership and success in the 21st Century. Here, I mean “success” in every meaningful sense of the word: technological, economic, social, moral, and ultimately, military. Supporting a measured but steady migration away from fossil fuels is a clear winner across every single dimension. If in the context of the upcoming debates you choose to stress economic success over the others, I can understand that given the circumstances. But any way one looks at it, embracing clean energy is the single most pragmatic thing that anyone who loves this great country can do.
The United States needs to make investments from the public sector, while encouraging them in the private sector. To the degree we do not, we are actively rushing towards a new status as a kind of underling in the international community. These are the moments, unfolding over the next few years, in which we will either stand up and play a key role, as we did in every important industry throughout the 20th Century, or fall gradually into irrelevance. Yes, we could be crushed under the weight of the Republican demagogues in their last-ditch desperation to win in this election, and their subsequent eradication of every bit of progress this country has made over the last 50 years in terms of environmental protection and stewardship.
By the way, it’s clear to almost everyone that these “demagogues” are the pawns of the large interests in traditional energy, and you know this very well. How candid you wish to be on this point is a matter of judgment. Whatever you do, you mustn’t be tepid in your discussions of the subsidies for the oil companies. This is an evil and blatantly corrupt practice, and we all know it – even most Republicans. The Senators who voted to retain the subsidies last March received, per capita, five times the amount of campaign contributions from the oil companies as did those brave and honest enough to vote against them. If you’re looking for the most obvious example of malfeasance in government, you needn’t search any further. All you’re earning by mincing words here is the bitter disappointment of your supporters who are counting on you for leadership, not some kind of cringing diplomacy. Whatever words you choose, you need to be proud and bold, not weak and defensive, about what we’ve done and where we need to go as a nation.
As you’re well aware, the economists who have no axe to grind here point to an extremely bright future in terms of green jobs. Do not allow your opponent to get away with the idea that a sustainable approach to energy and transportation is a job-killer. The precise opposite is true; you know it, and you’re more than able to defend this critical point.
Mr. President, it my hope that before the next debate, you will take a few deep breaths and think back on this letter. Then go in and nail this. An anxious nation as well as people all over the world are watching, counting on you to come through as the leader you have the potential to be.
Best regards and good luck,
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