Thursday, December 09, 2004

Alternative Energy is a GOP issue, apparently...

Today, in two unrelated stories, we learn of two fabulous innovations in alternative energy.

This would be just another cool science story except for the fact that one of the articles says, "[the inventor] is not assuming that the United States will shift from fossil fuels to the hydrogen economy by 2020, as touted by the Bush administration, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and many scientists."

It's not media bias--Wired magazine isn't exactly Fox News. What we see is yet another area in which Democrats have utterly failed to seize the initiative, and this neglect has allowed Republicans to define the terms of the debate to their advantage.

George Bush has a lousy energy policy, and it goes far beyond favoritism towards polluters. Of far greater consequence is the fact that he's failed to demonstrate real leadership by instituting policies that put us on the road to energy independence. Heck, he's failed to even use the power of his bully pulpit to call for energy independence.

Democrats, however, have not stepped in to fill the vaccuum. We aren't hitting hard on the fact that our dependence on oil forces us to support undemocratic regimes throughout the Gulf States. We're not pointing out that Osama bin Laden is a goddam oil prince, and he would never have come to power if the Middle East weren't awash in oil profits. We're not pointing out that our complete and total dependence on foreign oil undermines every single one of our strategic initiatives in the war on terror.

And we aren't giving people an alternative plan. We aren't calling for a billion dollar Manhattan project for alternative energy. We aren't demanding zero emission energy production by 2015. We aren't even promoting projects like the Apollo Alliance. Instead, we're allowing the debate to be "Arnold and George like hydrogen energy, Democrats like solar." That's a losing proposition for Democrats.

We don't want to be in a position where the argument over energy policy is characterized as each side placing bets on which energy source is going to prove to be the best one. We want to be in a position where we're the party that's demanding progress and they're the party that's beholden to special interests and standing in the way of security and progress! And if we let ourselves be dragged into a debate on the merits of hydrogen vs. solar debates, then we're allowing George Bush to get away with doing nothing--nothing to protect our security and nothing to find the fuel of tomorrow's economy. That's not just bad for Democrats--that's bad for America.

I'll talk about this more in the future, but it's time for Democrats to start behaving like an opposition party. Compromise is over--it's time to make the differences stark and clear, and present a real choice to Americans. Because we'll win once they know what we stand for.

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