In this post, I argued that the best, simplest, and most impactful message for advocates of climate legislation is this: Good climate policy will rescue American families from a sinking ship.
I meant to add that the Dems not only seem to miss the power of this message, but are by all appearances working to undermine it.
What do I mean? Well, core to the message is a simple truth: Fossil energy costs are going up. They’re going to keep going up. The reasons are complex, a mix of supply constraints, skyrocketing demand, and commodity speculation, but the important thing to note is that the reasons are deep, structural, and unlikely to be reversed. As long as our transportation, electricity, and agriculture are dependent on fossil fuels, we face a grim future of domestic inequality and strife coupled with international tension and conflict. Sticking with fossil fuels is a ticket to nowhere. The status quo is not an option.
But Dems keep encouraging the delusion that high fossil energy prices — particularly gas prices — are some sort of weird aberration resulting from the greed of oil executives or Saudi intransigence. They keep encouraging the delusion that with a few policy gimmicks we can bring those prices back down. They are reinforcing the notion that Americans are entitled to low gasoline prices and that it is in the power of the federal government to provide them.
As long as Americans think that energy prices might go back down at any moment — that the cheap-energy good times of the ’90s are but a “windfall profits tax” away — they won’t support a policy they’re told will increase those prices.
They need to be told the truth. We can sit back passively and become a victim of rising, volatile fossil energy prices. Or we can take control of our fate. We can take the edge of today’s fossil prices with a coordinated efficiency campaign, and put the money we save toward building a stable, prosperous energy infrastructure for the 21st century. We can break our fossil addiction.
Tell voters the truth. That’s the first step.