Make America Brave Again

You don't have to convince me that fear sells. I'm a marketing professional, well aware that I can sell you everything from hand sanitizer to Hummers by preying on your anxieties.

Donald Trump, ever the expert salesman, has exaggerated threats in order to sell us a scaremonger's list of products: a wall to keep out Mexican "rapists and murderers," a ban to keep out Muslims he claims are all terrorists, and our very own strongman to Make America Great Again.

When Trump, or any other salesman, offers you a lifestyle based on fear, don't buy it -- unless you prefer to live in fear and ignorance. Americans can instead choose courage and wisdom.

What do we hope to achieve as a nation? If we allow unfounded fears to paralyze and divide us, we can't hope to achieve much. Do you recall what President Kennedy said as the terrifying 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis began to unfold? He called on Americans to aim for a lofty target -- the moon, in fact.

The term "moonshot" has been adopted by Google for its most innovative projects. A moonshot is ambitious and groundbreaking. It addresses a huge problem and proposes a radical solution. Today we face huge challenges, and we need national leaders who will call us to moonshot thinking, not an unfounded fear of our fellow citizens.

President Kennedy inspired us with these words, "Our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security... all require us to make this effort to become the world's leading space-faring nation."

Today's Americans would thrill to a president who called us to become the world's leading climate-protecting nation. Our best and brightest would rise to the challenge of creating a new economy free of dirty, dangerous, old-fashioned fossil fuels. That freedom is within our grasp if we make it a national priority.

Right now we are lagging, not leading the world. We are squandering our chance to dominate future energy industries. Why not catch up and take the lead in the next decade? When America trailed the Soviet Union in the space race, President Kennedy admitted, "We are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead."

Less than 10 years later, brave American astronauts were the first men to walk the Moon.

The Apollo Program led to astonishing benefits for science, technology and the economy because President Kennedy called on our collective spirit to achieve an audacious national goal "that will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills."

Let's see what we can accomplish in a decade or less. A clean energy future is within reach, with priceless benefits at a relatively modest cost.

To avoid trillions of dollars of potential loss from human-induced climate change, we need a president who will follow in JFK's footsteps with public investment in a clean energy moonshot. Our government allocates around $31 billion per year to biomedical research but, sadly, less than $2 billion per year for renewable-energy R&D.

Great progress begins with a great goal, one that is bold yet feasible. Our next president must speed up progress in three key areas: improving energy efficiency, producing electricity from low-carbon energy sources, and switching from petroleum to low-carbon energy for transportation and heating buildings.

Congress must also fund research into breakthrough energy storage solutions, so clean energy technologies can be integrated into a modernized electric grid. California has set us an example with its own moonshot. The state is aiming for 100-percent carbon-free electricity within 10 years distributed by an interconnected microgrid system to achieve as much efficiency and local power production as possible, at the same time increasing reliability and resilience.

Many Americans fear economic insecurity more than they fear climate change, even though climate change is one of our greatest threats, according to the Department of Defense.

Fear not -- we can tackle both urgent problems at the same time.

A president and a Congress who think big enough to unleash the talent of our people on the scale of the Apollo Program will similarly create millions of jobs -- with the benefits of safer infrastructure, better vehicles, and cleaner air.

Let's get to work.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the dark days of the Depression, said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts... This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished by ... treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war." Like the crisis of the Depression, our climate crisis should be treated with the urgency of war.

Our nation's worst enemies are paralyzing fear and division -- not immigrants. Ask your Congressman to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. This November vote to defeat unjustified terror. Demand leaders who refuse to peddle fear and division, who instead insist on determination, innovation, and a plan for action.

It's time to Make America Brave Again. It's time for a moonshot to achieve a strong and sustainable economy that works for all of us.