Language Matters (OR Framing the Conversation)

The Republicans spent a lot of time talking about drilling for “American” oil at their convention last week, touting it as the solution (or part of the solution) to high gas prices. As Jim comments, this doesn’t really make much sense. But, Ezra thinks the Republicans focus on it simply because it really irritates liberals, which is reason enough.

To me, it reinforces how important language is. Somewhere along the line, someone settled on the term “energy independence” as the catch phrase of choice to define this issue. As has been noted elsewhere, this is silly. In a global market, we can’t expect to create our own energy market. Besides, it’s not foreign energy that’s a problem, it’s foreign oil.

If we defined this issue as “freedom from oil” instead, then the Republicans wouldn’t be able to sell the idea of drilling for our own oil as a solution. When this issue was framed as “energy independence” it left open the possibility of producing more of our own dirty energy, through offshore drilling and “clean” coal.

Bottom line, we need to stop talking about “energy independence” and start talking about “clean energy”.


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