Much had been said simplistically in the 2008 election campaign. John McCain’s energy policy was ‘drill baby drill’. Barack Obama’s response was ‘check your tire pressure’. I remember it all too well, having signed up to lead the eighth district of Maryland for the Pickens Plan. I had also signed up to help make some get out the vote calls for John McCain and what I heard from the voters was a concern for both the environment and for energy self-sufficiency. There was a frustration that neither candidate was measuring up to that task.
The Democrats were seeing the environment and energy as a jobs issue in the primaries, mostly from the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Republicans were not seeing it as a jobs issue, but as a matter of expanding domestic oil supplies to lock-in the Bush-Cheney ANWR (Alaskan Wildlife Refuge) policy aspiration. They even picked Sarah Palin of Alaska as the VP pick for McCain. The McCain-Palin energy policy had become ‘drill baby drill.’ After the primaries, the Obama campaign had marginalized the energy issue as a ‘check your tire pressure’ matter to define energy as an energy efficiency and consumer demand issue to contrast it with that of the fossil-fuel supply-siders on the Republican side. The reality that both demand and supply matter even as unemployment rose to 7 per cent before the election had mattered to neither side.
T. Boone Pickens had then become busy trying to get the attention of both presidential candidates to make them see the importance of energy outside of the political slogans, both in 2009 and well beyond into the future of the country. He had even met with both of them. McCain had lost the election and Obama won.
It is election season again. Now President Obama has forgotten conveniently all about tire pressure gauges. He wants jobs. And 8 million jobs don’t come with energy efficiency alone. He wants more domestic oil and natural gas. If pushed hard, in the absence of foreign imports, domestic oil will not last the country beyond 3 years and natural gas not beyond 20. The country wasted one full year on a health care bill to protect the status quo and to bail out Wall Street. Let alone green collar jobs, America is walking around shirtless, both on Main Street and on Wall Street.
It is election season again and Scott Brown shot the opening salvo. The election of a colored man and a child of miscegenation had gotten the conservatives worried. The Republican message is shaping up clearly: it is more important for the United States of America to nail down its identity than it is to worry about policy issues to confront the President with who is not doing a good job of them either. He is president and his party is in power so at least he gets to pass his mediocre policies than none at all.
In the last election, both political campaigns knew that policies don’t matter to win elections. The McCain campaign manager had said so openly: that it was not about issues. It was about values, as if the two are mutually independent. So, it appears that the Democrats are purging their party to appeal to the future of America: the non-white majority of 2050. And the Republicans began doing the same with theirs beginning with Bush-Cheney: the white minority of 2050. The Obama Democrats want European multiculturalism. The Bush-Cheney Republicans want a White Anglo Saxon Protestant Judeo-Christian America.
McCain’s Greatest Generation was fighting a culture war with their boomer sons and daughters in the last election in a reprise of the old times and somewhere in between the America of the Constitution and the language that document was written in was lost. America could end up being either multicultural or White and Judeo-Christian but at the end of the day neither pays the bills for the children and grandchildren to be better off than their parents and grandparents similar to many other countries of the world. America has forgotten, as a cultural trait, to look forward on the things that really matter. It is fast becoming a mediocre and a petty nation at its most opulent and powerful time in its history.
The American mind is closing in on itself.