by Michele Combs and Scott Rost
As the Republican presidential hopefuls gather in Cleveland for the first of the primary debates, they seem focused on the personalities of the people sharing the stage instead of the policies they plan to pitch to voters. We would like to see their attention – and the media’s – refocused.
The snarky sound bites and “gotcha!” comments coming from the campaign trail aside, our nation faces serious challenges that require strong leadership. Voters deserve to know candidates’ detailed plans for addressing real issues. This initial debate provides candidates an opportunity to sell to America a path forward for this country. And for many voters, this debate will provide first impressions that will influence their decisions at the ballot box.
Our country is at a crossroads right now, and the presidential election provides us a perfect opportunity to realign our priorities and vision. Our Grand Old Party needs to reposition itself to appeal to a broader range of voters, including younger ones. They are looking for a candidate who represents their position on all the issues.
But most critically, they care about creating a secure future for the United States by embracing clean energy sources.
In spite of the vast natural gas resources that lie even beneath the very stage where the candidates will debate, our country remains heavily dependent on foreign oil. This whipsaws our economy and leaves families victim to volatile gas prices. Our addiction to fossil fuels weakens our national security and our energy security and puts a leash on expanding our economic potential. Just imagine: We borrow money from China to buy oil, including from some nations that do not have our best interests at heart.
Drilling more domestically is not the only answer. No matter how much we produce here at home, oil is a global commodity, and unfortunately, we don’t control the spigot. But we do control how we use those God-given renewable resources that are right here in our country. These homegrown energy sources are plentiful — even infinite. Clean energy produced right here at home doesn’t require us to remain at the mercy of volatile political situations or unpredictable dictators.
History has demonstrated that when it comes to technological innovation, America’s entrepreneurial spirit and dedicated workforce can set a brisk pace for the rest of the world to follow. But this won’t happen in the clean energy sector without a detailed energy plan for this nation that includes support for policies that move us closer to true energy independence.
Americans see a crowded Republican primary field, and will quickly winnow it down beginning with this first debate. The public wants and deserves a spirited exchange of high-minded ideas and policy proposals designed to solve pressing problems, not more personal attacks. Our clean, sustainable energy resources provide opportunities for Republican candidates to refocus and re-energize the campaign season with creative, positive approaches worthy of the voters who expect the very best of those who hope to lead our great county. Let’s show the voters at home, and people watching beyond our borders, that America can also lead the world, once again, in sound, responsible and sustainable energy policy.
Americans will be tuning into the debate this week not because they are eager to watch the candidates bicker, but because they want to see real solutions put forth on the issues they care about most. It’s time we move our party forward by embracing a detailed “all of the above” energy paradigm that is not just a catchy turn of phrase, but a serious commitment reflecting 21st-century values and American ingenuity.
Michele Combs is founder and president of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform in Washington, D.C. Scott Rost is a partner at the South Milhausen law firm in Orlando, Florida, and a member of the board of advisors of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform. Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum and the Christian Coalition are hosting a pre-debate reception and debate watching party at Cleveland’s Hard Rock Cafe Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Space is limited so register in advance. For information: tinyurl.com/qa3xoek