During the Republican debates the other night, one theme kept coming up. Leadership. That is right, all of the Republican candidates claim that America needs to “lead the world” and that the world is agonizing because of a lack of “American leadership.”
We have heard that theme over-and-over-and-over-and-over, well you get my meaning. We also heard numerous times about American Exceptionalism. See we Americans are the absolutely greatest people the world has ever known. Hell, if Caesar had to go up against America, he would never have carved out his empire.
According to the Republican Party, we are so great, so wonderful, so knowledgeable, so innovative, and so powerful, the entire world wants to know what we are going to do next. They can’t wait for America to teach them everything. According to them, if the world won’t listen, we should go it alone and prove to them we are right! As long as we hold true, the world will come along with us.
Well, sort of, kind of, maybe. Apparently this philosophy about America being “right” all of the time doesn’t apply to things that hurt some of their contributors. Yes, I am referring to Climate Change. According to the Republicans, we should “lead from behind” on that issue.
At first, all of the present candidates have said that Climate Change is a hoax. Now, they are saying that the U.S. cannot make a difference by itself. Marco Rubio went off on a 3 minute tantrum about that very fact. He said “America is not a planet. We will make very little difference in affecting climate change by ourselves.” That statement may be true. But, Mr. Rubio, what about American Leadership in the world? If the world is going to follow us on everything else, wouldn’t our great leadership get them to “go along” with our plans to save the planet?
This exchange went on for quite a while. Others stepped in and expressed similar fantasies. Ted Cruz wanted to butt in, but for once, the moderator cut him off. I did hear him say that he was a “Climate Change Denier.” If I was on the moderator stage, I would have said “of course you are. President Obama believes in it. If the President was a denier, you would be screaming about how real it was.”
Rubio showed what he was really interested in when he went on. He said that reducing carbon emissions would “cost too much.” Whenever Republicans get caught in an hypocritical moment, they always bring up the “cost too much” meme. He claims that reducing our dependence on fossil fuels would “kill jobs.” Another favorite talking point of Republicans when they don’t have anything else to say.
Right on cue, yesterday, scientists said that 2015 was the warmest summer on record! Today, they announced that August was the warmest month on record. According to this data, so far, 2015 is 1.51 degrees F warmer than the average 20th century average temperature world-wide.
Now 1.51 degrees may not seem like a lot, but it is huge. Because these temperatures include air temperature over our oceans, that means the ocean water is heating up as well. When ocean temperatures rise, sea ice melts. Despite what the Climate Change deniers want you to think, the sea ice is melting at alarming rates.
For centuries, European countries wanted to find a “clear” path through the Northwest Passage so they could cut down the time it took to sail from Europe to Asia. That passage now exists during some parts of the year. It is still not stable enough to be used regularly, but the time is coming when it will be.
We have melting sea ice and glaciers. Sea levels are rising, just ask a small island in Alaska that is on the verge of being permanently flooded. The community already has had to move its cemetery to keep it from being flooded out. Every year we are seeing the “warmest year on record” and Republicans are either denying these facts, or are saying “well we can’t do anything alone.”
Then, it was also reported that an estimated 3.1 million people, in this country die from air pollution! People with respiratory illnesses are severely affected by air pollution. It doesn’t matter what the numbers really are, the fact is our citizens are dying because of air pollution.
So, I ask these Republicans, what about that American Exceptionalism and great American Leadership that you all say we must exhibit? Why is it okay for us to go to war alone if necessary but not go it alone on acting on Climate Change? What is wrong with America saying to the world, we understand the problem, and we are going to do our part regardless of if you want to or not?
Wouldn’t that be showing real American Leadership? Well, yeah, kind of, sort of, maybe. But they can’t do that for two reasons. First and foremost, President Obama is already trying to do just that. Lead the rest of the world and get them to follow our lead. That alone is enough to keep our Republican friends from going along.
Second is that they get a whole lot of money from fossil fuel companies for their campaigns. Where do you think the Koch Brothers got their fortune? They got it from fossil fuels and chemicals. The Interior Secretary the other day said we “cannot just turn off the spigot.” She is right.
But, we can start planning and investing in “clean energy” alternatives now. We can start building the infrastructure that will be required to make clean energy a reality. And, in the end, we will see energy costs decrease not increase not only for the average person, but for our corporations. That will make creating jobs in this country easier.
Plus, jobs created to support clean energy cannot be “outsourced.” You will actually have to live here to work on the infrastructure simply because it is here! So, we would end up with lower energy costs, good paying jobs for our people, and a cleaner environment.
I believe that this issue, more than a lot of others, clearly show the fact that when republicans talk about “American Leadership” they are just spouting out words. None of them actually believe what they are saying. American Exceptionalism and American Leadership are about a lot more than starting wars. It is about doing things we know are right, regardless of whether or not everyone is going to follow us right away.
It takes true courage to be a good leader. So far, none of the Republican Candidates are willing to show that courage and help America really become energy independent which only clean, renewable energy can do. So, even if you don’t like the Climate Change argument, economics should tell you that turning off the spigot in the near future is what is best for our country, our people, and our economy.
So, come on Republicans, show us what American Leadership really looks like. Stop incentivizing your fossil fuel donors and stop killing the planet. Then you can talk to me about “American Leadership.” Help us make a clean break from fossil fuels by creating new technologies and infrastructure to support it and then you can talk to me about “American Exceptionalism.”
Until the, you are part of the problem. So, get out of the way and let the real “leaders” show you how to move forward for the betterment of all Americans.