President Biden is heading to Massachusetts today, and the topic is climate change.
He’s been on this beat since his 2020 campaign, promoting clean energy on the road to net-zero carbon emissions and ending reliance on fossil fuels.
These days, the wind is at his back — if not in convincing Americans to ditch their gas-fueled cars for electric vehicles, at least in demonstrating to disenchanted Democratic voters that he’s still all about the agenda.
When tarmacs in England are melting from unheard-of high temperatures and wildfires spread across Europe; while swathes of the U.S. struggle with drought and drying rivers and coastal communities are seeing increased flooding due to rising sea levels, it’s evident that things are not good, climate-wise.
People are paying attention.
But the solution is complex, more layered than a decisive “we must” — because people are also paying attention to their shrinking wallets.
Biden and his administration are big on promoting EVs, his platform outlined a plan to boost the number of charging stations around the county, and to help make EVs “more affordable” through a tax credit.
For the new Democratic demographic, the upscale set, this is wonderful and doable. For the old Democratic demographic, the working class, this is pie in the sky stuff.
When the cheapest loaf of bread is $4 and meat is becoming out of the question for family meals, buying a new car is not high on the to-do list. For those who don’t make six figures, you drive a car until it wears out, and if it still has some miles to go, you pass it on to your teen.
Rents are skyrocketing, home prices are in the stratosphere — many Americans are in “just getting by mode.”
So Mr. President, how are electric vehicles going to be truly affordable for people who are currently driving a beater because it’s the best they can do?
And if the wave of the future is EVs, what does that do to the resale value of gas-powered cars for people who want to get rid of them in order to buy an electric car? How does the plan to fight climate change through non-fossil fueled cars accommodate those who can’t afford to take a bath when selling their old car?
How much will the government pay people to retrofit their homes with solar panels — and where will that money come from?
Climate change is important — but it’s not the only crisis affecting Americans.
You wouldn’t know it to hear some top-level Dems.
“I think given the global crisis that we’re facing, given the inability of Congress to address this existential threat, I think the White House has got to use all of the resources and tools that they can,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Trying to feed one’s family, pay bills as prices continue to rise, and watching one’s 401(k) get a beatdown by Wall Street are here-and-now crises facing Americans daily. These families are not against fighting climate change — but they’re not in the same place as high-earning lawmakers who charge their EVs before heading into a session of Congress.
Biden’s visit can’t just be about telling his base he’s on message — he has to have solid, realistic solutions to get people on board.