Get Invoved with WCTM:
The Defining Issue of Our Time

The Defining Issue of Our Time

President Obama recently gave a campaign themes speech in Osawatomie, Kansas. It was an hour long and laid out the President’s views of the most important questions facing our country and the electorate in 2012. He spoke of “a raging debate over the best way to restore growth and prosperity.” I quote from the President’s Osawatomie speech:

And ever since, there’s been a raging debate over the best way to restore growth and prosperity, restore balance, restore fairness. Throughout the country, it’s sparked protests and political movements—from the tea party to the people who’ve been occupying the streets of New York and other cities. It’s left Washington in a near-constant state of gridlock. It’s been the topic of heated and sometimes colorful discussion among the men and women running for president.


But, Osawatomie, this is not just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.

In full disclosure, I supported Barack Obama enthusiastically throughout the 2008 election process. In further disclosure, my own experiences as a candidate for U.S. Congress in 2010 showed me very clearly and personally that elections are not won by telling voters what they do not want to hear or what they are not ready to hear. Still I must dispute Obama’s statement of “the defining issue of our time” as improving middle class economics.

The defining issue of our time is how people can act to minimize or to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, and other deterioration of natural systems, that human activities have caused and continue to cause. We are already seeing significant effects from the higher CO2 levels we have put into the atmosphere, on an accelerating basis, over the past century. Despite science and everyday observation, short-term economics dominates the mainstream political discussion and, as Obama’s speech indicates, that will likely continue through next year’s elections.

It is perhaps too much to ask of a Democratic or Republican candidate for national office to even suggest that we need big changes, now, in the way we are consuming natural resources. Al Gore started talking publically about big environmental issues and did the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” only after he lost the 2000 presidential election. “” is our shot to bring out “inconvenient truths” about the environment and to make discussion of remedies more mainstream. Please help us build a constituency for needed change, change we should truly be able to count on.

Add a comment

Comments (3)

  1. Stephen Lerer Sunday - 11 / 12 / 2011
    Our large middle class made the US the greatest consuming nation in the world. There seems no argument that we have too many unemployed and need more jobs created in 2012. The unsolved question is how to create jobs, have a growing middle class and at the same time consume less. The phrase "we consume too much" sounds right to me, but it is not what the public wants to hear.
  2. Peggy Henger Monday - 12 / 12 / 2011
    Thank you, Grier, we need strong political leaders to help people understand that this is the most critical issue of our time, not the economy, or jobs, or any other political issue. We, the United States, host the largest personal consumers, and we need to be a leader in lowering consumption, not try to solve our economic problems by "going shopping."
  3. Jay Sunday - 18 / 12 / 2011
    In fairness, I have to admit that I may be less hopeful that we can overcome our consuming ways without a lot of pain that I fear we would never willingly accept. I don't doubt global warming, I do think it's not all or nothing, but figures I've seen don't suggest that we will be able to turn back the tide short of worldwide reductions in energy consumption by some very significant numbers... Better than 50%. But with the growth of the middle class in Asia and other parts of the world, energy consumption is rising, not falling. Perhaps we americans are terrible energy hogs and could reform our ways, but can we really tell the rest of the world to halt their rising middle class because it makes too much greenhouse gas? I also don't think biology is on our side. Biological organisms have strong instincts to continue to reproduce. A species will continue to increase their population and over populate if able to do so. Unfortunately it typically requires events and changes that significant reduce the population before things are brought back into equilibrium. At 7,000,000,000 humans, quite possibly we have already overpopulated this planet, but personally, I still hope never to see a major large scale population decrease. Too much pain. I continue to applaud you good efforts, and will pass on your blog. Thank you for caring!

Add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe to Newsletter