The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Green Politics Hurting Obama in Swing States

Since the beginning of the recession, America’s “brown jobs” revolution has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise shaky recovery. States like North Dakota and Texas have led the country in growth due to their strong energy sectors, and the discovery of vast quantities of shale gas in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Colorado are now providing new jobs.

These states have more than shale gas in common: all of them are also on the short list of swing states that decide this year’s presidential election. Republicans are seizing the opportunity to make energy politics a centerpiece of their campaign. As the FT reports:

“Blue-collar voters were never that sold on environmental issues, and if some Democrats come across as not keen on economic development, it could lose them support here in Ohio,” he said.

Republicans, from Mitt Romney, the party’s presidential candidate, to the congressional leadership, have made Barack Obama’s alleged stifling of the energy industry a centrepiece of their campaigns this year. . . .

Mr Romney has said he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he wins office and curb the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Only time will tell whether this is a winning strategy, but there is reason to think it could work. As we’ve mentioned before, energy politics is an area where Obama is particularly vulnerable. His decision to nix the popular Keystone pipeline earlier this year signaled antipathy toward one of America’s strongest industries while doing nothing to help the environment; it was lambasted as a pointless blunder by observers on both sides of the aisle. Meanwhile, his pet projects in alternative energy have fallen flat, as debacles like Solyndra have received far more attention than the program’s few successes.

This should be seriously worrying to the Obama campaign. Brown jobs may be unpopular in Obama’s white-collar, urban, coastal base, but it is blue collar voters in swing states that are likely to decide the election, and many of these voters stand to reap significant benefits from an expansion of America’s energy sector. From a political perspective, Obama has placed himself on the wrong side of this issue. It may come back to bite him come November.

Published on June 6, 2012 5:00 pm
  • thibaud

    This was indeed an own goal by Team Obama.

    Regardless of the electoral stakes, an “all of the above” energy policy is the appropriate one for this country.

  • Kenny

    Look, Obama’s agenda and that of the environmental and leftist segment of the Democratic Party is (and has always been) to retard the industrial & economic betterment of America. Fact.

    This is all now coming to light of even the dullest among us because Obama is in power and he cannot rely of outright lies and half-truths to hid his purpose. Obama’s actions (or non-actions) have exposed him.

    Obama was bad for America from the get-go, as the country is finding out.

    Look for a wipe out in November, not only of Obama but also of liberal Democrats at all levels of government as well.

    In retrospect, the 2012 election will be looked at as a continuation of the 2010 one.

  • Fred

    From your keyboard to God’s ears, Kenny. I just hope you’re not whistling past the graveyard.

  • Cunctator

    For those of us who are not Americans but are deeply troubled by the incompetence and foolishness of the current US president, stories like this are reassuring. Perhaps it is only a few more months until we will no longer have to talk about the Obama administration in anything but a history class. But I am not at all hopeful. Obama’s faults and his manifold inexperience were so evident before his election that I was shocked that the American people elected him in the first place. Something has gone terribly wrong in the US system and society that propelled the former junior senator from Illinois into the presidency. So, I am not holding my breath this time around.

  • Kenny

    Look Cunctator, Obama’s election in 2008 was a unique situtation — a perfect storm of a financial crisis coupled with 1) Bush fatigure and 2) the politically correct tonic of voting for a black for president by a public which the media has induced to have feelings on white guilt

    Well now the thrill of the experience is gone, and reality is setting in.

    Here, America was like a woman whose eye was caught by some ultra-high fashion dress in a shop window. The saleswoman (media) told her how hip the dress was what with its exotic colors and severe lines. The woman couldn’t resist and so bought it.

    She wore the dress once, and its absurdity began to set in. The woman quickly learned the meaning of the old fashion statement that there’s a fine line between being stylish and trashy.

    The woman’s once expensive dress now sits on a rack in a Goodwil store with a $5.00 tag on it. Collee kids look at the dress as a possible outfiit for a Hallowee party.

    That’s where Obama is going in November — to the discount rack.

  • Bill Snider

    Energy holds the key to a recovery. Only due to the choices of Obama and his administration is it not happening. Housing usually leads out of a recession, but this time it could be the development of energy and other natural resources. Hopefully a President Romney will make a different choice and encourage and promote energy and natural resource development and it will ignite a recovery.

  • koblog

    Green policy seems either to be
    1) a new religion with mindless adherents or
    2) a get-rich-quick scheme for connected insiders, like the Solyndra debacle, which had the California Democrat Party as one of its investors.

    I say “religion” because I just viewed a Subaru environmental video where the host stated with a straight face that compact fluorescent bulbs are superior to standard Edison bulbs because you cannot recycle an Edison bulb. Then in the same breath, said to recycle the compact fluorescent “responsibly” or its toxic mercury will leak into the environment.

    This kind of mindless overreach is ridiculous on its face and hurts the Greens badly. I simply don’t believe their claims.

  • Jeff77450

    I’m a Republican and I want Kenny on the ticket! :) Kenny hits the nail on the head.

  • brad

    American standard of living having have been falling steadily and have accelerated during the last four years. While the irresponsibility and criminality of both parties are to blame some one is going to get the blame; if Wisconsin is any indication guess who that is.

  • Stu_in_VA

    WRM …than the program’s few successes.

    What successes? Solyndra was a touted as a success until it failed. We learn later that “efforts” (undermining the taxpayer) were put in to keeping it from failing before the 2010 election.

    For anything that can be claimed as a success now, just wait 6 months.

  • http://teapartynews.us David H Dennis

    Cunctator, a lot of people were fooled by Obama in the 2008 election, even conservatives. He talked a really good game and made it look like he was on everyone’s side.

    I wasn’t fooled, but that’s because I did a lot of research on him. There were even a couple of National Review writers who went over to his side in disgust with McCain.

    Now that Obama has a dismal track record, it’s going to be a lot harder for him to win.

    D

  • bandit

    Green policy seems either to be
    1) a new religion with mindless adherents or
    2) a get-rich-quick scheme for connected insiders, like the Solyndra debacle, which had the California Democrat Party as one of its investors.

    it’s a luxury status symbol issue for the limousine liberal left.

  • Leon0112

    Open ANWR! Open the BLM land in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah for oil exploration and drilling. Not only will it create jobs, increase tax revenue and reduce imports, but it will reduce the power of OPEC.

  • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

    Brad … if the American people merely blame a party, without looking in the mirror and realizing just how far WE LET government reach into our lives, under the assumption that “they” could do our work for us with regards to solving our problems and securing our future, we are not going to reverse the slide you describe.

    The whole paradigm of governance — and how we as individuals govern our own lives and future — has to shift … not just the placecards at the head table.

  • http://blogfonte.blogspot.com/ Mitch H.

    The energy industry is particularly prone to booms and busts, and there are an accumulation of signs that the oil industry is about to bust out. The rest of the world is twigging to the potential of the new “tight oil” techniques, and looking in their own back yards for their own bonanzas. Likewise, the recovery of the Libyan and development of the Iraqi oil industries has started the turnaround, combined with an entirely likely global return to recession, is going to cause oil to crash. Just as development of the Kansas and South Dakota tight oil and Ohio/Utica shale gas plays are spinning up.

    Not good.

  • wGraves

    The idea is to provide electrical energy and transportation at prices which are competitive with those available to our comptitors in other countries. Then we may be able to resurrect our manufacturing economy and heavy industry. The administration has tried to push advanced development projects not ready for deployment into full scale development long before they were ready. The net result, heavily subsidized by the government’s money, has been destructive of American industry and our jobs base. Exploitation of our energy resources will be key to recovering our economy and allowing our capitalism to generate an industrial renaissance, creating jobs for everyone who wants one.

  • SC88

    “Green policy seems either to be
    1) a new religion with mindless adherents or
    2) a get-rich-quick scheme for connected insiders…”

    Those two are not mutually exclusive. See: Scientology.

  • Corlyss

    “Green Politics Hurting Obama in Swing States”

    Good.

  • http://khemenu.blogspot.com Ari Tai

    re: a religion or a scam.

    I suspect it reflects the human condition.

    There’s always been a significant suggestible fraction unable to resist the street preacher’s call for repentance because the end is nigh. And those who want and need to belong to any group of sufficient fervor.

    Politicians (and the so-called “science” in need of government funding) are just the latest to abuse the innocent.

    Every generation has its snake-oil, its “Kellog”-ish health movements, its fads and absolute faiths, and its urge to scourge itself for both public and private satisfaction. This is our generations. It’ll look just as foolish in retrospect as all these others – because we actually know so little in so many domains.

    What we do know is that poverty is proportional to catastrophic results. The less you, your family and your neighbors have under your own control (from $ to energy to ability to transport yourself) the more likely it is you are to die vice those that have more. With Katrina’s yellow school buses underwater being yet one of thousands of examples. And since the cost of energy is the hidden denominator in every economic equation, the more energy costs, the more you sweat, the fewer customers you can reach, and the few suppliers can compete for your wallet – which is the true wealth metric – so the more energy costs, the poorer we are, the lower our quality of life.