Here’s the Burning Question: What Does Coal Mean to You?

Coal has become THE hot button for Republicans to push in order to take some pot-shots at President Obama. It’s been pushed at campaign rallies, during attack ads, and was brought front and center during the first presidential debate last Wednesday. Romney has made it very obvious—he likes coal. But why focus on this in particular? Why not come right out and say things like “I like oil” or “I like natural gas”? They’re both commonly used energy sources and are great fodder for an argument between the parties.

Simple: Romney doesn’t actually like coal.

I would have asked for overtime pay to be here, too, guys.

What Romney and the Republicans like is what they have re-formed coal to be. It’s no longer about domestic energy sources, it’s all about convincing the nation (or at least the fifty three percent of the nation that’s worth convincing) of a logical fallacy. Here’s how it looks:

Coal=Energy; Energy=Jobs; Jobs=Jobs for the middle class

So, if President Obama wants to cut all coal production as the Republicans falsely claim, then the president wants to cut all jobs for the middle class.

End of coal production=End of jobs for the middle class

Make sense? No? That’s what I hoped you would say.

While the argument doesn’t satisfy a logical end, it does serve as an excellent distraction for those driven to opinion by emotion or those who choose to look the other way. It fits perfectly in to the conservative, Fox News-inspired political climate where he who shouts the loudest and the most inanely is correct. And of course, some photogenic supporters help to complement this noise. Even if they are being used unwillingly as a photo prop.

As long as the Romney camp keeps shouting about coal, no one can cut in to mention that the current administration is in support of not only coal but of providing equal support to clean coal along with other alternate energy developments, or that coal jobs have risen to a 14-year high, and deaths associated with coal mining accidents are down 13%. Their argument also negates the possibility of job creation from alternate energy source development, or of ongoing efforts to research clean coal technologies. And yet somehow, despite all his blustering, Romney can’t even find room on his official website to discuss coal in any meaningful way; there was, however, plenty of room for more Obama-bashing.

Extracting the issue from the noise, it is still obvious that coal is important. It represents different things to different people, whether it’s your job or your vision of our energy future. Let’s be respectful, Mitt: turn down the volume and take your hand off the button.

 

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Image source: Down To Earth