Perhaps sadly, 21st Century American politics has some striking differences between the political parties in the world views and the policy constructs that derive from it.
All too often, for any number of reasons, these stark contrasts get lost in the public consciousness — whether due to fatigue, information overload, the messiness of legislative sausage making, mediocre journalism, or otherwise.
All too much of the political campaigning ends up, of course, on style rather than substance. And, well, there is strong research backing that choose to go for emotions over rational thinking.
There are Political Perfect Storm arenas, however, where that rational thinking intercepts strongly with the emotional that fall into a serious wedge arena that can be leveraged, very strongly, for political benefit.
In 2012, what is one of the most significant policy arenas that fall into this Perfect Storm arenas: Energy policy.
While, sadly, President Obama’s State of the Union address sounded at times like a speech that would have played with the 2008 Republican National Convention (“All of the above” energy policy and the loving embrace of natural gas policy), there were several arenas which showed the most striking positive public reaction in focus groups during the speech and polling afterwards: a call to end subsidies for oil companies and a call for investment in a clean-energy future.
To be clear, these are popular concepts with Democrats, Independents, and even Republicans.
… the Republican attempt to drag clean energy into the culture war has reached only the conservative base. Independents outside the Fox-Limbaugh loop still favor it. In other words, this is a powerful wedge issue that favors Democrats.
Americans know that clean energy is the future. They want to embrace the future. They want to, well, win it. They certainly don’t want to fend it off for the sake of oil companies. Americans hate oil companies! (Almost as much as they hate congressional Republicans.) They don’t want to subsidize oil companies any more. Even Republicans support ending oil subsidies by a 2-to-1 margin.
Who opposes these? The Republican Party elite, who are doubling down in their support for polluting energy industries and are wedded to attacking clean energy paths forward no matter this fiscal, national security, health, or other benefit streams.
As Brian Merchant puts it
Democrats have a huge opportunity, as Roberts notes, to take up an incredibly popular fight by rallying behind clean energy. They stand to reap major political dividends—and frankly, that’s the way that we’re going to start seeing inroads made towards better renewable energy policies. So pay attention, Dems. Bring this issue to the fore, make strong and repeated calls for more clean energy, and watch the GOP writhe while they attempt to justify favoring coal and oil.
It is time to take a sledgehammer to the wedge to make it clear to the America public who salivates over polluters’ political contributions and who supports a prosperous clean energy future. Doing so will increase the likelihood of making the voters’ passion for a clean-energy future a viable possibility to achieve come January 2013.
Related: An Election About Science