As I’ve mentioned before, most pointedly in my first ever Fish & Bicycles post, I very deliberately avoid writing too often about politics here.
To write well on the subject requires spending many, many hours immersed in it, reading a wide variety of reporting, from the mainstream media to political blogs, and given the dysfunctional state of U.S. and international politics, given widespread corruption and all of the devastating, destructive impacts of that corruption, a convincing argument could be made that voluntarily immersing oneself in this subject is a foolish act of self-destruction.
And yet, there are times when keeping silent is just not acceptable, and this is one of those times.
While I’ve been disappointed in a number of things President Barack Obama has done in his first term, I’m MUCH more disappointed in our country, for being so entrenched in a polarized two-party system, so entrenched that the opposition party willfully and publicly made it their top priority to ensure that Obama was a one-term president, obstructing much of what he had hoped to accomplish, so that they could argue during the campaign for the 2012 election that Obama should not be re-elected.
One of the areas that I pay particular attention to is environmental issues, since I like to blog about sustainability (see also my Celebrating Eco-Progress series), and it’s been painful to watch the erosion of Obama’s 2008 vision for moving the country further along towards renewable, eco-friendly energy, as he’s faced the realities of a insanely powerful fossil fuel industry. To hear him talk on the stump about increased domestic oil and natural gas production and a focus on so-called “clean” coal is painful.
And yet, President Obama deserves MAJOR props for pulling off one of the most brilliant political moves I’ve seen in my lifetime: Thanks to persistent Democrats in congress, in late 2008 President Bush II was forced to attach strings to the bailout of the auto industry, strings that included a commitment to higher fuel efficiency standards, standards that would have to be negotiated with an incoming Obama.
Now, it’s one thing to attach strings, and it’s another thing entirely to pull those strings, but by May of 2009, just four months after being sworn in, Obama unveiled the details of a deal he negotiated with automakers and state governments, a deal that represented unprecedented collective buy-in from all of the parties, a deal that could have only been accomplished by Obama holding the automakers accountable, by reminding them that they were bailed out and that they owe the American people.
Well, you can label the choice we make in November as a “lesser of two evils” proposition, but while Obama, in the midst of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, managed to reach this historic agreement, his opponent, Mitt Romney, acted with disgraceful opportunism and made $15 million dollars by investing in a hedge fund that held the auto industry hostage during the negotiations, exploiting the charged moment for their own enrichment.
For this and other reasons, the choice in November is crystal clear to me, despite any shortcomings of the first Obama term, and so I dedicate this Video Fridays installment to the president, for doing the best he could do for the planet under extraordinary circumstances.
Happy Weekend, everyone!