Election ‘06, and Why it Doesn’t Really Matter…

It’s that time again when we’re being subjected to the incessant bombardment of ads for various candidates vying for public office. Here in Minnesota, we get to elect the governor, a US sentor, and the usual slate of statewide and district reps & senators. One interesting thing I’ve noted about this time around is that ‘energy security’ is becoming one of the big buzzwords for (most) candidates of all political stripes. More people are noting that America’s dependence on oil is becoming a big liability for us both economically as well as politically. Without an adequate supply of the cheap stuff, the wheels will come off the US economy, and to secure access to it, we’ve become politically entangled with a number of states around the world who outright reject many of the values we tell the world we stand up for in when we ‘spread democracy.’

Unfortunately, most of the pols running for office here are embracing ethanol as the fuel of the future. While producing mass quantities of the stuff will no doubt benefit Minnesota farmers in the short-run, it’s not a true solution. Yet both of the main candidates for the US Senate, Amy Klobuchar (Democrat) and Mark Kennedy (Republican) are promoting it’s use as the fuel of the future. Neither of them talk much if at all about oil, other than the usual bromides about price gouging, kicking our dependence on oil, and all that.

In contrast to the equally uninspiring senatorial candidates’ positions on energy, there’s a marked difference between the two main gubernatorial candidates. Mike Hatch (Democrat) has a detailed position paper on his website talking about energy independence and sustainability, while Governor Tim Pawlenty’s (Republican) website is about as uninformative with regard to his position on energy issues as you can get without displaying a blank piece of paper.

So whom to choose? I’ll leave that up to you. I personally am politically agnostic, for neither of the big two offer any sort of leadership on issues of energy and sustainability. The way our political system is set up, though, they are the only real contenders for political power both at the state and national levels. Other parties have neither the base nor the funding to put up anything more than a special interest or protest candidate. With a lack of leadership on any of the truly important issues, I’ll be voting for gridlock, since both parties have shown that they can’t be trusted with complete control of the White House and both houses of the Congress.

I’ll close by mentioning the party that should be galvanizing voters on these issues: The Greens. Descended from the Green parties of Europe, you’d think that they would be the natural fit for people who focus on these types of issues. However, in our extremely polarized political environment that we have today, the Greens will never appeal to anyone that hasn’t gotten kicked out of the Democratic party for being too liberal. A quick look at the Minnesota Green Party’s caucuses shows listings for Free Media, Animal Rights, GLBT causes, and womens’ issues. There’s nothing wrong with any of these issues, but they appeal to very narrow bands of voters, and will likely be enough to scare off any vaguely conservative voters who may be concerned about the world we’re leaving behind to our kids and grandkids. Perusing their main platform shows another large set of very polarizing stances on issues. While I’d love to see them become a larger force in regional, if not national politics, I just don’t see it happening anytime soon. They won’t be the party to lead us down a road towards sustainability, but they may be the party to help us pick up the pieces after our current paradigm crumbles.


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