Apollo's Appeal

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first installment of a regular column by Dan Carol that connects smart projects and new pathways to progressive power.

The bottom line: We know 10 times over what's wrong with George Bush, weenie Democrats and all that jazz. So let's stop documenting the dilemmas -- and instead begin pouring concrete on a new foundation to make it right.

This time: a national security strategy to feel good about. Ready for regime change? I bet you are. But it's not going to happen if we can't make the majority of Americans feel safe. Fortunately, there's a new project called The Apollo Alliance that's baking up a tasty new recipe for clean energy, national security and jobs, jobs, jobs.

Imagine spending serious money -- like George Bush does for tax cut trillions and Halliburton handouts -- on an ambitious 10-year, $300 billion effort for sustainable jobs, cleaner manufacturing, youth and urban apprenticeships and smarter transportation. The program pays for itself with jobs and greater energy independence in U.S. exports. It revitalizes the U.S. manufacturing base. Creates three million jobs. Heals labor vs. environmental grouchiness over Arctic drilling. Fuels the hopeful, can-do spirit that put America on the moon. And maybe even inspires the right kind of patriotism.

So what's not to like? In polls, the Apollo initiative is testing off the charts with Joe Six-Pack voters -- the voting block we need to win crucial Rust Belt states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan in 2004. On the campaign trail, Democratic presidential candidates are offering dueling Apollo-type policy plans. Across the country, high-tech and environmental leaders like the Sierra Club's Carl Pope are also joining 17 major unions in saying yes to the Apollo approach.

Slowly, but surely, the political wedge that George Bush drove between labor and environment is beginning to close. That's good news -- because we need Turtles and Teamsters to march together in 2004 (as they did in Seattle in 1999).

Frankly it still amazes me that neither Bush nor the Democrats in Congress stepped forward with an ambitious crash effort like this before. It seemed like such a no-brainer in the wake of Sept. 11th. Call me nostalgic, but I remember my grandfather sharing stories of how he saved aluminum foil in World War II. I am inspired by the images of Rosie the Riveter. I believe we must fight terrorism -- but the fight begins when we come together around a shared vision of hope and optimism -- not the fear that fuels the Bush policies.

Sappy I know, but I think the greatest generation is yet to come. So check out action.apolloalliance.org -- there's a top-flight, 10-point policy plan and a bottom-up, grassroots strategy for infusing these ideas into the presidential debate in key primary states like Iowa. For you policy wonks, imagine big block grants to deficit-starved states, to seed regional strategies without a one-size-fits-all solution, tied to hard targets and caps on greenhouse gas emissions. But before the laws can change or the money can move, first we gotta win -- and Apollo is the winning (not whiny!) message for Democrats in 2004.

Dan Carol is the founder of Carol/Trevelyan Strategy Group, a political consultancy specializing in communications strategy, grassroots and the Internet.
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