By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Tom Brokaw made a prediction this morning that there’s a whole new generation of Americans for whom the gulf oil leak will become a defining moment in their political lives. (I’ve got a clip of him on MSNBC this morning below.) He’s got a point: More so than the Exxon Valdez or Hurricane Katrina did, this disaster has the potential to change the way of life for many young people, and move them toward alternative energy sources. That generation is already very environmentally aware, and there are more coming right behind them--in fact, the most militant recyclers I know are in kindergarten right now.
What Brokaw didn’t say is that there’s a political opportunity here--especially if Obama doesn’t come down hard on BP and Democrats continue to take campaign money from oil companies (Politico reports that Barack Obama was the largest recipient of BP campaign money over the last 20 years.)
Instead, the Republican Party should become the party of new energy. The GOP should cut all ties to Big Oil--including not accepting any more campaign money from oil companies--and build an aggressive issues platform based on energy independence, “green jobs,” good stewardship of the environment, and national security. It’s in the party’s best interest politically: the GOP would have the youth vote for the next 50 years. But more importantly, it’s in the nation’s best strategic interest, on so many levels--in terms of security, the economy and the environment. And finally, it’s in young people’s best interest.