Oh, how far we’ve come from the days of “Drill, Baby, Drill!” and all it took was a massive catastrophe the consequences of which are not easily foreseeable. Currently thousands of birds, turtles, dolphins and other wildlife have been found dead and our coastal regions appear decimated. There’s a dawning realization among 23 percenters that maybe we can’t trust Big Oil. That’s all it took. But, here we are. Ready to have a conversation about the environment.
The nation has watched the Deepwater Horizon spill leaking into our ocean and washing up on our shores, covering our pelicans and choking marine life and we’ve learned something. It seems the nation is ready for environmental protection to come first, above keeping fuel costs down.
I can’t help but note that they (those folks just realizing now that the environment is not a liberal issue, but an issue of life) are the partisans who clung to their jingles and bumper-sticker slogans as Sarah Palin slyly inserted race and religion into the 2008 campaign, never understanding that we are all in this together, like it or not. We are.
According to the latest Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection survey Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center 56 percent of those surveyed said, “protecting the environment” should be the more important priority for U.S. energy policy over “keeping energy prices low.” Thirty-seven percent said low prices should take precedence over the environment.
Ok, 37% is higher than those pesky 23%ers….
The poll notes “The margin is striking considering the economy has not fully recovered and gasoline prices usually spike during the summer travel season. But the scale of the spill might be driving opinions as oil washes up on Gulf beaches, the economic impact of the drop in tourism takes hold and the impact on the region’s fisheries deepens. “What we’re seeing in the Gulf is a catastrophe the likes of which we’ve never seen before,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said during his press gaggle on Air Force One en route to Gulfport, Miss., Monday morning.”
What all of this means is that Obama has a rare chance tonight when he addresses the nation to discuss how we move forward from this. This is the time when a good leader will urge the public to do what is uncomfortable for them, to make personal sacrifices for the good of the nation and indeed, all life.
We’ve been at this crossroads before, but since Reagan tore down Carter’s energy panels, we’ve been told that it’s our right to blindly and greedily consume resources. Responsibility is not sexy, does not sell, and doesn’t make the right people rich. Tonight, our President has a chance to change all of that. Tonight, President Obama can lead us into a more sustainable future, even if we have to pull the knuckle-draggers along with us. Yes, we can.