Let me give you five reasons: Dominic, Louise, Catherine, Will and Oliver. They are ages 6, 4, 4, 2 and 9 months respectively. I happen to care about them a great deal.
If you were me, you would, too.
My nieces and nephews are truly children of the 21st Century. They will see the legacy of the environmental policies we enact...right now. They will also live to see the legacy of all that we don't do, as well.
We don't have time for a "gas tax holiday." We all know that's true. It's bad policy, it's DOA in Congress and it sends exactly the wrong message to the voters about future legislation we need to pass on energy and our environment. But, let me be clear, we have even less time for the politics implicit in a "gas tax holiday." And the reality of that, the political games being played by Bill and Hillary Clinton and their surrogates have only reconfirmed my opposition to the campaign of Hillary Clinton for President.
Let me explain...
I am a true believer in the United States Constitution and engagement with and participation in United States electoral politics.
I also understand that many have paid a price for us to have the privilege of participation in our democracy: my Uncle Jim served in North Africa, my Uncle Robert served in Germany, my new Uncle Vernon (what a gift to our family!!) served in Italy, my Uncle Wayne served as a medic with the Marines in the Pacific, my Uncle Leonard served as an MP in occupied Japan, my Uncle George served as an officer in the United States Navy. Our right to vote, our right to participate has not come cheap.
All of us Americans know that to our bones. It's the background story of the fabric of our lives. It's an ongoing story that we live with to this day. The Uncles and the Aunts and Grandparents who paved the way for my life of peace and prosperity here in the United States each knew that in a way only those who have served and waited and worked and risked all can tell.
What will I be able to say to my nieces and nephews? What obligation do we have to those who come next?
I am a Democrat. I believe in electoral politics because politicians write the laws, politicians sculpt the ongoing work of our Constitution, they have the power to shape our nation and our lives, they have the power to remake our planet if the need arise.
However, I am also friends with cutting edge sustainability activists here in Berkeley and Oakland who know that time is running out when it comes to energy policy and sustainability. Policy has not matched science. Politics has pandered when it needed to be bold.
We have suffered from a lack of honesty. We have succumbed to a politics of fear.
And, when the chips were down in the election of 2008, Hillary Clinton and John McCain pandered and played into precisely the kind of politics of fear that will make real energy reform impossible. I cannot stomach that.
I cannot face my nieces and nephews and say, "When the chips were down, I did nothing."
The gas tax pander isn't a bad idea because wonky people think it's bad policy. Though, in point of fact, wonky people overwhelmingly do. The gas tax pander is a bad idea because it perpetuates a mindset that will slowly destroy the United States economy and the innovation that made us the global leader in the 20th Century.
Green, renewable energy will be the economic engine of the 21st Century. It will not come easy, it will not come cheap or without sacrifice, and it will not come if we do nothing but politics as usual. We will not be innovators by accident. Change won't happen automatically or on the cheap.
Green, renewable energy, as the state of technology now stands, may not even be sufficient to steer our planet from the course we have followed for decade after decade. China is firing up coal plants faster than any nation in human history. China's coal reserves rival every nation in the world, even our own. We don't need mere science, we need diplomacy and effective statesmanship.
Given that, what do we need right now? What do we need to do?
What we need now, more than anything, is true leadership. Leadership based on honesty and courage.
The gas tax pander, as perpetrated by Hillary Clinton and John McCain is the opposite of that.
The very voters that Hillary Clinton and John McCain are pandering to with a "gas tax holiday" are the citizens who will bear the brunt of the massive changes yet to come as we face global warming and the tail end of the era of fossil fuels. There's a reason that two of the three leading candidates for President have chosen to pander instead of tell the truth about gas prices. That's the political easy way out.
However, truth be told, working class Americans, now, more than ever, are in need of innovation and honesty and public investment in the profound economic changes that will remake our nation and shape our lives for decades to come. Innovative energy policies are the engine that will create the jobs that will put healthy food on our children's tables and clean-burning sustainable fuel in our automobiles. Energy independence will make us stronger and safer as a nation. That's just the truth. It won't be easy. It will take coming together and making sacrifices.
And, given that, I have a direct and simple message to my fellow Americans tonight. If we don't do this, someone else will. And, yes, if others come up with this technology and innovation, we will end up working for them.
It is that simple. Our independence, our national pride depends on all of us coming together just like our Uncles and Aunts and Grandparents did, to put it on the line for America. We need to answer the call just like so many of our brothers and sisters are doing right now in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There is not time to waste with the easy way out. We've done that. It doesn't work. We've read the "Made in Somewhere Else" labels for decades now. It's time to change that.
Katrina taught us that we need to invest in our American infrastructure. Minneapolis taught us one more time that we absolutely must invest in our American infrastructure. We can't afford a third strike.
So many bridges were built under FDR during the New Deal. Those bridges have patriotic plaques stating the years and leadership under which they were built. They stand proud to this day because our ancestors built them in tough times. But they won't stand forever. We have to face the facts; our gas taxes build bridges and create American jobs.
Energy independence is our new common cause in America. We need to put our shoulders to the wheel. Not just for us, but for all of our children. That's what it means to be a leader in our world. That's what it means to think about those who come after us. We are so much better than the easy answers our politicians have given us. We don't need politics driven by polls and sound bites; we don't need pander policies posing as "Real Solutions." We all know this is true.
It's time for a change.
I support Barack Obama for President. I support, in particular, the fact that this man is honest and a leader. I don't profess to say he's perfect. I've worked long and hard enough in enough different industries in American life to know that that's not what makes the difference.
What makes the difference is us.
Do we want change or do we want comfort? We could easily have stood by and opted out of WWI or WWII. We could have given up during the Depression or after so many of our most promising leaders were killed in the 1960s. We did not. We made a choice and that choice had a clear price; a price for those that lived and a price for those that did not. We chose to tackle the problems we faced head on. We were honest about them.
Honesty is patriotic. Barack Obama is telling the truth. That's something to think about tonight.
I am not alone in thinking of my young nieces and nephews during this election cycle, many of you have children and grandchildren of your own. What kind of world are we leaving them? What political tradition will they inherit from us? What will we think about as our legacy as we pass the baton to those who come after us? I would hope that our legacy would be one of courage and honesty and hard work, of doing the right thing when faced with tough facts.
When it comes the election of 2008, I know I'm not the only one for whom this is personal.
In fact, it's personal for all of us, that's the point.
What are we going to do about that?
There's three days to take action right now: