JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
How do I know this was President Obama’s best State of the Union speech to date? When Dick Cheney slithers out of the rotting woodwork of his underground basement, which happens rarely these days, to announce that “Obama is destroying the country” – you know that the President was saying all the right things. As for destroying countries and global economies—now that’s something Dick Cheney excels at, indeed, you could call him the Master of Mass Destruction.
But who wants to think about old Dick Cheney after hearing President Obama’s inspirational speech last night? The President seemed determined to wrestle with the most difficult problems facing Americans by setting an agenda to solve them, which range from lifting the middle class economy up, to ending voting inequities in which citizens are intentionally forced to wait in long lines in horribly cold weather for hours to cast their votes, to fixing an eroding infrastructure, to ending the wars, to boldly announcing once and for all that we must get off oil.
Wait a minute! Did I just hear Obama say we’re getting off oil for good?
So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.
Furthermore, to assure us that he means what he says, he boldly clarified to congress that if they don’t act on reducing the causes of climate change by getting off fossil fuels and polluting energy, that he would take “Executive Action” and do it himself. Wow! Astonishing.
Finally, the idea of using an Executive Order for saving our planet to shift to clean energy instead of using it for surveillance, drones and assassinations…all I can say is: Thank you, Mr. President!!
To back up a tad, the President also did an excellent job of connecting the recent extreme weather disasters that threaten life as we know it at every conceivable level, physically and economically, with the harsh reality of global warming:
But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.
The President’s proposals for solutions heavily leaned on clean, sustainable energy, and not, as we all expected him to say, on a “balance” between polluting sources of oil, coal, nuclear and gas—rather, he made “clean energy” the primary and essential goal:
Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.
The President then spoke those magic words of shifting “our cars and trucks off oil for good,” and acknowledged the “painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.” He set a goal to cut half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses:
Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long. I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.
These climate change solutions are part of the President’s proposals for rebuilding America by moving forward with the construction of new high tech infrastructures for businesses, transportation, highways and electric stations for hybrid and electric vehicles, which would also create new jobs for Americans. The President is not alone—he has plenty of public support to push through these excellent solutions, with or without a dead-beat congress.
I could be wrong, as Obama hasn’t been exactly great about backing up his words with action, but perhaps this second term really did give him the wings to go full speed ahead, to make good on his promises after all.
Jacqueline Marcus is the editor of ForPoetry.com. Her book of poems, Close to the Shore, was published by Michigan State University Press.