This year's most pitch-perfect political speech may have just been given, not by President Obama, or Mitt Romney, but by John Dingell, the dean of the House of Representatives, but razor sharp at 85. Speaking to the Blue-Green Alliance's Detroit "Good Jobs-Green Jobs" Conference, Dingell sounded a simple theme. Americans are all in the environmental crisis together, they are all in the economic crisis together, and the two crises have a common solution -- making every job a green job. "You can't tell a fellow passenger, hey, you're end of the boat is sinking, " Dingell points out, and urges the audience to go beyond looking for green jobs, but to make every job greener.
"We can't afford to have an economy in which some jobs work for the future. We need an economy in which they all do. We haven't inherited the earth from those who went before us. We have borrowed it from those who follow. We have an absolute moral obligation to hand it over in better shape than we received it."
Dingell manages the remarkable task of describing the broken state of American politics -- everyone understands that the hyper-partisanship of Washington is his text -- without calling names, but at the same time without making excuses for those who are responsible.
The surprising thing about this conference is that the Blue-Green Alliance -- now the largest progressive coalition in the nation, with organizations representing 14 million members belonging, finds itself at the absolute heart of the nation's 2012 economic and political conversation. Bob King, the president of the UAW, and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Associate Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman are here to address the stunning recovery of the American auto industry -- with 200,000 new jobs added in two years, and another 100,000 in the works, and all three Detroit manufacturers increasing U.S. market share for the first time in years. As Stabenow says, this is the moment when America beings "exporting our ideas, not our jobs." So dynamic is Greater Detroit today that it is the single biggest center of clean energy patents in the world -- and the U.S. Patent Office is opening its first regional branch here in Detroit. The success is driven by a new commitment to innovation, technology and sustainability -- with electric drive train vehicles at the head of the parade. The U.S. two years ago had 3% of the world's advanced battery manufacturing capability -- by 2015 we will have grown that to 40%, unquestionably the biggest, fastest recovery in the twenty years history of the hollowing out of "Made in America."
This success was built on the decision by President Obama to rescue the auto industry. The victory is, correspondingly, very threatening to those whose vision of the American future is based on a few winners and a lot of losers. While the public is focused on the need for jobs, the Tea Party/Koch complex is focused on the threat posed by clean energy -- because it brings Americans together and requires government leadership. In April, 16,991 negative political spots were shown around America. And 13,748 of them -- or 81 percent -- focused on energy, according to data provided by New York-based Kantar Media's CMAG, which tracks advertising.
While oil and coal to provide a lot of the money for these ads, they don't provide 81% of the money -- so clearly the American extreme right has decided that the opportunity clean energy and innovation offer for those American who believe, with Representative Dingell, that we are all in the same boat, is simply too threatening to ignore.
Not only will the future of clean energy innovation and manufacturing shape the kind of climate and environment we hand off when we return the Earth to our children -- it's also going to determine whether, as Dingell said, we restore the America we all love.