Yesterday, President Barack Obama set the agenda for his second term -- and what a note he struck! The president vowed to fight climate disruption and make the United States a leader in clean energy, devoting more time to this critical topic than any other issue. Just as importantly, he celebrated the value of citizen action, from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, and underscored that standing up for what is morally right is a profound act of patriotism.
In the president's own words, "You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time -- not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideas." 1
(If you can't make it to D.C. but want to help out, see the PS below for other important ways to pitch in.)
It's our power as a democracy. Even our fiercest friends in office are looking for our support and conviction to make change happen. Change -- real change -- doesn't happen behind doors or in the hands of the few. It happens with us, and when they hear our voices, our leaders act.
And there's plenty of change for us to address. Rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is the first step for the climate, but it must be followed by many more -- including critical federal standards for new coal power plants, auto fuel, and fracking.
Big Oil and Big Coal will use all their power against us -- but we're used to that. As history has proven time and time again, when we stand together, our voices can speak louder than corporate polluters' dollars.