The deliberative Harvard Law Review editor who could talk to the Federalists and the liberals on the law review in the same breath, the Illinois state legislator who could neither vote yea or nay, and the man who saw a purple America in the 2004 Kerry convention, when the rest of the country polarized over the Iraq war was seeing blue and red, is having a hard time learning the peculiarities of Washington’s polarization after he entered the White House.
As the country, galvanized by his electrifying campaign for the presidency is not only turning up grass roots but turning over the grass roots in its enthusiasm and energy to get America right again from the Sierra Club on the left to the Tea Parties on the right and Repower America and the Pickens Plan playing the hybrid somewhere in between in the fertile political center, is voting up and down and purple on every issue across the political spectrum looking for solutions instead of partisanship, Barack Obama is asking for up or down votes, when in fact he should be seeing both the ups and downs.
The grassroots president must return to his political roots to be in sync with the rest of the country lest he step over himself to become a lame duck, handing over the very victories he helped trigger as they materialize. Politics is not a straightforward thing. This President’s grayness in execution is largely because he is always right on principle but muddled on policy. Policy is critical if he expects to execute, because execution is the translation of principle into action through policy.
Sometimes the survival instincts of the members of Congress whose job insecurity is higher than that of the President can provide useful pointers to making better policies, even though usually they can be politically expedient. This time around all avenues of political expediency are closed and the only way out of the economic maze is to do the right thing.
The majority Democrats in the United States Congress are justifiably and sensibly revolting, according to the Wall Street Journal, against three important components of the energy legislation under consideration in the Congress: the Yucca mountain nuclear waste disposal site in Nevada which was an election issue in 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) carbon dioxide regulations and wind power using Chinese made wind turbines. This is the “down” vote and a potentially devastating one for the White House if the President expends his political capital defending his position against the sentiments of the Democrats in the Congress.
The “up” vote is happening as we speak in the real world outside Washington. FP&L is creating a nearly 40,000 mega watt (MW) power plant that is a hybrid of cleaner burning natural gas and solar power. So, the “down” vote must be seen by the President in light of the Florida sun shine.
Florida Power and Light (FP&L) where the President gave a speech about the smart grid is doing the right thing even as Wall Street is trying to import Chinese windmills into the country just as they did T-shirts and toys in the ‘90s, helping China move up the value chain only to be crushed under the weight of the growing Panda bear, as if there are not enough Chinese consumers for the windmills made in China. It is best for U.S corporations and Chinese corporations to begin to make things in China for the Chinese consumers rather than for the rest of the world.
Nevadans are correct that they do not want nuclear waste in their backyard, though they may be a little paranoid about it. But that rejection is an opportunity for something else. Two very interesting possibilities emerge for the disposal of nuclear waste, globally, wherever peaceful nuclear power is being used. The emerging commercial space sector which got a boost in the recent White House budget for Fiscal Year 2011 can dispose off the nuclear waste in outer space, away from earth, in perhaps a trajectory toward the planet Venus. Or the nuclear waste can be disposed off in the Sahara, compensating the Saharan African countries in return for creating a Yucca mountain type of disposal site as part of an international consortium similar to the Desertec foundation.
The EPA carbon dioxide regulations are not necessary if the administration provides targeted corporate tax cuts to coal power plants to convert to FutureGen plants and for other forward-looking clean energy investments such as electric cars and alternative energy solutions in lieu of cap and trade or carbon taxes. All that Fed money also needs a place to get soaked up in the economic soil, if only the fertilizer of government policy can enable that to happen.
With unemployment stubbornly sticking to close to 10 per cent, it is time to get serious about change to change the way we live.