Today, the New York Times reports that President Obama is going to open up our coastlines to offshore drilling. That’s enough to make me, for the first time in quite some time, rush right over here and start writing something. I titled this post “Where’s your socialism now?” because, to a degree, it pleases me to see Obama doing things that make people like Glenn Beck look even more like idiots, as opening up multi-billion-dollar profit centers for private businesses in American waters is pretty much the opposite of socialism. (Of course, don’t tell Glenn Beck that; where there’s a will to label Obama Hitler and Stalin at the same time, there’s a way.)

But it’s really hard to lord offshore drilling over anyone because it’s wrong. Completely, unequivocally wrong. There’s no question that it’s going to be destructive to ocean wildlife, that it’s going to open up many of our coasts to potential damage from oil spills — nasty business indeed, as we’ve seen before — there will be more air pollution, erosion of wetlands, and in general all the ugliness that goes hand in hand with industry. That’s what you’re going to hear from many of my liberal compadres, I’m sure. Like any other reasonable person, I’m concerned about the environment, which we (that is, humanity) continue to annihilate with great abandon. But really, that’s not the issue here. No, the problem here is oil. We’re attempting to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by supplementing it — very temporarily — with more domestic oil.

The world, as a whole, is running out of oil. This is a fact that it seems our government is either unwilling or afraid to come to terms with. The Times article notes that “as a result of the Obama decision, the Interior Department will spend several years conducting geologic and environmental studies along the rest of the southern and central Atlantic Seaboard.” Several years worth of study? That’s got to cost a lot of money. Why aren’t we instead investing that money in funding research toward long-term energy solutions? Instead, we’re spending money so that oil companies can make even more money? How does that help anyone? This shortsighted perspective dominates the American political landscape, not only with respect to offshore drilling, but also with almost every major issue of today. As Obama plays to the middle on these issues, with an eye toward reelection in 2012, it just puts in perspective how broken our political system really is at this point.

The fact of the matter is, nothing he does will satisfy the Republicans. The concept of “I scratched your back, now you scratch mine” is entirely lost on them. Bipartisanship is a myth at this point. To the Republicans, there are two ways: theirs, and the highway. What the Democrats seem to be just beginning to understand is that they’ve been driving down a one-way street for years now. So many Democrats voted with Bush on things like the Patriot Act (which is, by the way, much closer to making the U.S. like Nazi Germany than Obama will ever get) and the Iraq war — why? He didn’t make any compromises for them. He didn’t give them anything. The Republicans have established a long and strong history, especially since Clinton came into office, of giving nothing and taking everything. Alternative energy is the future, and it ought to be the present, too. Opening up our coastlines isn’t going to win the president a single vote, nor will it address the massive energy issues the world will be facing in the near future. There is absolutely no reason for Obama to keep playing into Republican hands by giving them offshore drilling, a shortsighted “energy solution” in which the government spends money to open up areas for the already horrifically rich oil industry to make even more money.

And yet he is. And all I can hear in my head is Sarah Palin from the ’08 campaign — “Drill, baby, drill!”

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