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Phone: 877.327.3702
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Primary Election 2016: What’s an Energy Voter to Do?


The caucuses are closed in Iowa, and the political pundits are already busy prognosticating about what happened there and what will happen in the New Hampshire primary election next Tuesday.

If you don’t vote in either place, you know that election fever is soon coming to your state or commonwealth, county, municipality, and precinct. It’s a presidential election year, and if you are registered to vote, you’ll have the opportunity to determine who represents you in the fall elections. So who do you choose, and how do you choose? What’s an energy voter to do?

Johnson vs. Goldwater

Let me share just a bit of perspective gained after 50+ years of watching elections. I still remember my father pacing the family room the evening of November 10, 1964 (I would have been six years old) wondering what would happen to the country if Lyndon Johnson was elected over Barry Goldwater. I remember that my sister and I got to stay up very late to hear the election returns (or at least I did—she was only four), but I honestly don’t remember my father’s reaction once the results were in. I know that we survived (contrary to his and Goldwater’s expectations, perhaps!). So I’m pretty confident that the Union will survive into 2017, no matter what happens in the primary season or even the general election.

And at the very least we’ll get to hear some new jokes.

What’s the Fuss About?

But all the jokes don’t decrease the significance of what is going on. In this country, elections matter, and they certainly matter to me. Think about it—if you were born and lived in China, elections wouldn’t mean a thing. You wake up every morning with the leaders you’ve got. There’s no choice. But here, there is. Your opinion and your vote makes a difference—maybe all the difference.

So let’s return to the question I posed in this blog title: What’s an energy voter to do? The title itself raises a whole host of related questions, such as “What is an energy voter?” Or “What are an energy voter’s priorities?” I can’t even pretend to know the answers to either question! If you visit the candidates’ websites, you will find pages and pages devoted to “energy” or “energy and the environment”, which are the categories into which a host of related issues and policy discussions are generally poured. But I’ll be honest—just trying to pin down a candidate’s position on many of them can be difficult. Predicting his or her actions on any given issue once in office is even more elusive.

The Vision Thing

Even if you can keep all of that candidate knowledge in your head when you walk into the voting booth, are you really going to go down your laundry list of energy-related concerns when you actually pull the lever, or pencil in the oval, or push the button? And that’s really the point of this blog. Elections are about more than the Keystone Pipeline. They are about more than ethanol subsidies. They are about more than the Green Button, or regulatory reform. Ultimately, elections are about vision—our vision, yours and mine. They are about where we see our country going, and where we’d like it to go. Because when we stand in front of that ballot, we’ll be looking for the person to take us there. And that’s an important decision.

Closing Thoughts

An election is not a horse race. It’s not about picking the winner. To keep myself centered, I try to remember this bit of wisdom:

If you voted “X” when you wanted “Y”,
You’ve used your vote to tell a lie.

There’s truth in that, because elections are more than winners and losers. They are about us being honest about ourselves and optimistic about our future. And they are about communicating our vision for this great land, its purple mountain majesties, its spacious skies, and its fruited plain. Ultimately, elections are about Hope.

America the Beautiful – by Katharine Lee Bates (1913)

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet, whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine, Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years.
Thine alabaster cities gleam, Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!