The Canadian oil sands controversy has prompted many Progressives to view Obama’s decision on this particular issue as his political “Waterloo” moment. In fact, many have decreed that if Obama caves and gives Big Oil this anti-environmental, smorgasbord pipeline, they will walk out on him for good, leaving the White House door wide open for Mitt Romney, Rick Perry or even Sarah Palin to gallop into Washington in 2013 with the Tea Party riding shotgun and build the pipeline anyway. It would be utterly foolhardy to believe that they wouldn’t. If they would give the rich the Bush tax cuts, then they will happily give their private sector buddies a pipeline.
This is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem, this is a reality check problem, where money talks, progressive policies walk, and non-profitable ideology takes a backseat. During times of economic uncertainty, conceptual, unproven, innovational ideas such as green jobs will be relegated to the back of the line for anything that’s considered to be economically more reliable.
Ideologically, green jobs are what we should be doing, but realistically, during this jobless era, the term “environmentally friendly” becomes tied to the misguided vilification of socialistic welfare. Republicans and conservatives have the same goals as their private sector buddies; goals not based on politics, but based on capitalistic greed as an anxious populist waits in economic anticipation for some of it to trickle down to them, and the last thing they want to hear is some progressive, environmental concern that threatens to eliminate that hope.
It’s all about who controls the resources, and that aspect has not changed, whether it’s the colonies against King George III, the union against the Confederacy, or the United States against the old Soviet Union, China, India and the world. Just as Jesus Christ stacked up against the well-financed Jewish clergy, so stacks up green technology against private sector Big Oil. There is only one way to truly challenge the big oil companies and that way is not with a President. Nor is it getting arrested in front of the White House. Sure, picket signs and protests are honorable, but while progressives are out getting arrested, private sector money is greasing the palms of government. Couple that with the promise of an economic prosperity that may, but often won’t, trickle down to the people (but will find its way into the waiting hands of Washington either through taxes, bribes or political contributions) and it becomes easy to see how when money talks, progressive policies walk!
In fact, one need not look far to this pattern repeated throughout our nation’s history. For instance, many people believe that the boycotts of the civil rights era were all about promoting courage in the face of hate filled racism, and while that much is true when looking back at the results of such direct action, it is important to remember that “promoting courage” was never the basis of such protests.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood how money talks. He and his freedom marchers faced the same ideological foe that progressives are still facing today, and that foe is the Republican’s best friend for life, the private sector. Boycotts hit the private sector in the only place that it is capable of feeling any pain, and that is squarely in the pocketbook. The boycotts of the civil rights era were not successful due to some sudden, Christian, humanitarian epiphany on behalf of business! They were successful because the Jim Crow private sector’s love of green outweighed their disdain for Black.
Green jobs are going to have to take a similar approach in their quest to challenge big oil, because as long as green technology remains marginally profitable, big oil will continue to dominate and monopolize the market. Instead of expecting President Obama or any other President to convince the government and the private sector to “just say no” to “dirty” Big Oil money like the proposed pipeline — knowing full well that dirty money and clean money are both spent the same way — green proponents will have to find someone with the resources to put some serious money behind this new technology.
All it takes is one revolutionary invention to change the dynamics of the entire game. Only then will the world be forced to take green technology seriously. Instead of just giving speeches, supporting progressive candidates, and driving hybrids, some of these heavy hitters of the progressive cause need to join forces and finally make green technology a legitimate threat to the oil companies — heavy hitters like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, or George Soros.
It will have to be a Bill Gates type of individual, because it will have to be someone who is lucrative enough that they cannot be bought out by the Big Oil competition. Just don’t say that it can’t happen. It happens inside and outside of politics every day. For example, during the pro-wrestling wars between an upstart company called WCW and the old dictator now known as the WWE, the CEO of the WWE, a man named Vince McMahon, decided that fighting his competition was not a viable, long-term answer, so he shrewdly bought out his competition known as WCW. Like the big oil companies, McMahon had the resources to do it, and WCW immediately disappeared into the history books. The same thing will happen to any green invention that shows any promise of mounting a WCW-like challenge to the oil companies, unless there is someone behind it who’s in it to win it.
Seeing as how so many progressives and Democrats have decided to make this oil sands pipeline their line in the political, oily sand in regards to their future support of President Obama, one has to wonder what the President is supposed to do here. Are we putting unreasonable expectations on the President? If he supports the pipeline, he’s an environmental killer, but if he’s against it, he’s an economy/jobs killer, and the barrenness of American jobs is a weapon the Republicans are counting on in 2012. You can’t demand that a President be a “jobs man” on one hand, while expecting him to be a strict environmentalist man on the other. One of the two is going to suffer, and it will probably be the one that can summon the least amount of capitalistic revenue, and that aspect of the game definitely pre-dates the Obama administration.
So every progressive and every Democrat should consider this. At some point in time, either a Republican or a Tea Bagger will step out in front of a camera, possibly with some private sector, pipeline proponent, and say this to the American people if Obama does not support the pipeline:
“We had a chance to save this economy, and bring jobs back to America, but this President refused to support it. Our buddies in the private sector proposed a pipeline that could have lowered our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, produced an estimated 118,000 jobs of new revenue, and possibly guaranteed Michele Bachmann’s promise of $2.00 a gallon gas for possibly the next 5 to 10 years, but this President refused to support it. In a time where the high unemployment is only matched by the high gas prices, can you really afford to have President Obama’s out-of-touch, liberal policies for another 4 years?”
If you don’t think that will become a GOP political ad, you are truly kidding yourself.
If the Republicans and the private sector promise the American people jobs and $2.00 gas, and Obama stops it from happening, it will not matter if his ideological progressives abandon him, because everyone else will leave him high and dry. Just the baited possibility of anything near $2.00 gas will effortlessly buy someone enough votes to win the presidency in 2012, and people will part ways with climate change, prime farmland, and saving the environment in a lobbyist minute, because the American people can be bought today, have been bought in the past, and will continue to be bought in the future, even if the payoff is more of a temporary bandage than a cure. The oil companies get to make more billions and the American people get save a couple of bucks on gas until another Joplin, Missouri tornado comes through and knocks a tree down and disables the pipeline, potentially causing another BP oil spill on land and sending gas back up to $5.00 a gallon again.
But none of that matters, because money talks and progressive policies walk, whether it turns out to be 118,000 new jobs created or 10 jobs. All the Republicans will have to do is put God in front of it, and ask the sheep to pray over it until the other 117,990 jobs trickle down!
This is why the pipeline will probably win and eventually become a reality, even if it does not happen under the Obama administration. In reality, many of the protesters could conceivably be asking the President to delay the inevitable, while tying his political future to that delay, which seems ineffective at best in the long run.
This is not about progressive dissatisfaction with President Obama or disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters begging for a reason to bounce him. This is about understanding that capitalism beats non-capitalistic ideology. The oil companies, the church and the politicians have always known this. It’s time for progressives to both figure it out and at least act like they know when they do, because as they prepare to tie their abandonment anchor to President Obama, hopefully they will take a minute to envision who could be his likely successor.
The choice is yours.
Author of the book The Fear of Being Challenged
Edited By: Sherri Yarbrough