President Obama’s recent about-face on new national ozone standards demonstrates again how beholden he is to special interests, not the interests of the American people. One could even argue that President Obama is betting on winning over the “independent” vote by following through on such business friendly policies, let alone the business community itself. But it seems clear that the so-called independent American voter is a conservative wrapped in non-partisan political garb. President Obama has been unable to appease these individuals and it appears that whatever steps he takes, it won’t be enough to win over this bloc of voters.
The fact that President Obama caved in to the misleading rhetoric of big business leaders is as much a disappointment as it is a further confirmation of the myth that shrouds environmental protection and economic growth. Yes, in the short term environmental protections and regulations will cost serious capital for some businesses. But in the long run the returns will mostly outweigh the costs in financial terms. In human health terms, the gains will absolutely trump any costs that are incurred to clean up America’s business act.
Americans came to expect such short-sightedness and lack of political courage from the last U.S. president. Even though President Obama has been less than perfect in his environmental record, many liberals and progressives still hoped and believed that he would soon return to the proper course of policy action. Instead, the president has ensured that Americans will live with preposterously unhealthy air for at least another year. How many lives will be lost as a result? What value can possibly be placed on these losses?
The American dream of an economically prosperous utopia of individual freedom and benevolent consequences has become a cynical nightmare symbolized by severely damaged bodies of water, audacious levels of air pollution, continuous nonrenewable energy problems, broken unions, racism, and other forms of bigotry and parochialism. It is a country where Karl Rove has become a hero of the left relative to the Tea Party buffoons. A country where politicians like Rick Perry can even be seriously considered for the most powerful political position in the country. Not much seems right-side-up anymore, and the pessimism that follows may jade an entire generation of Americans, if not more. If so, who can begin to predict what the ramifications will be of an America wary of the future and self-conscious about its progress as a nation?