How Do We Make Clean Transportation Part of the National Discussion?

8_29_08_obama.jpgLike Joe Biden, Barack Obama also mentioned Amtrak in his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention, but only in reference to his running mate’s preferred mode of transportation.

There were many, many things to be excited about yesterday, but any livable streets advocate anticipating a call to rebuild and expand our nation’s transit infrastructure, or for more investment in clean transportation and sustainable urban development, had to be a little disappointed. In fact, as the New York Observer notes, Obama barely mentioned infrastructure at all, and only then to promise "new roads." And as for energy policy:

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal
technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help
our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the
future are built right here in America. I’ll make it easier for the
American people to afford these new cars.
And I’ll invest 150 billion
dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy
— wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an
investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs
that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.

Are biofuels, more roads, and easier paths to car ownership really the "change" this country, or the planet, needs? Not even Al Gore or the "We" campaign, with its ubiquitous ads, mentioned altering development or driving habits.

So as Americans celebrate a long weekend of cheaper gas, we leave you with this: How do we do it? How do we seize the "Obama moment," as this call to action by OurFuture.org terms it, to make clean transportation, livable streets, smart growth and the kinds of issues that we care about a part of the national discussion on climate change and energy policy?

Until Tuesday … 

Photo: Barack Obama/Flickr

  • You don’t.

    Large portions of our economy will cease to function, and those with the foresight to profit off of high energy prices from whatever comes next set the agenda for the next couple of generations.

    Nearly every American I know (esp. the baby boomers) thinks that a suburban home and a happy motoring lifestyle are examples of “the marketplace” in action and also the ideal living situation for everyone.

    In places without livable streets movements, you get “Potterville” or ghost towns. A bunch of foreign owned sweat shops open up in the midwest, and hire our workers at a pittance. Our government leases all of its property to private organizations in “Public Private Partnerships”. In order to pay off our massive debts, we are forced to take on IMF-style “austerity” policies that destroy our ability to get credit pumped into our domestic economy. Wide-scale poverty brought on by the “austerity” policies that demand huge cuts in social programs leads to violent and corrupt political parties, and we’re right back to our pre-civil war state in no time.

    The end.

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