Today marks the 40th anniversary of one of America’s finest hours, the Apollo moon landing. Many remember the landing as a testament to a nation’s ability to rise up and meet the challenge set forth by President Kennedy. Indeed, through sound public investments that unleashed the innovation of America’s scientists and engineers, we succeeded in the “greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”
But forgotten in this story of American achievement is the fact that not all were united behind the Apollo effort. Many conservative cynics, chief among them Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), opposed the Kennedy’s proposal altogether. Goldwater denounced what he called the “extravagant spending for the man on the moon program.”
In this century, President Obama similarly issued a bold challenge for our generation. Obama has called for “affordable, renewable sources of energy” to soon end our dependence on fossil fuels — the leading cause of climate change — and oil from the Middle East.
But just as Kennedy had detractors in the form of legislators like Goldwater, Obama faces a chorus of entrenched special interests and conservative naysayers who hope to derail a clean energy economy by proclaiming America cannot accomplish it:
SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R-OH): “Unfortunately, many proponents of a cap-and-trade scheme, such as Lieberman-Warner or Waxman-Markey, seem to be stuck on fantasies [...] Unfortunately, many of the supporters of green energy never mention that it is unrealistic.” [Senate Floor, 6/4/09]
REP. ROB BISHOP (R-UT) has smeared clean energy reform, calling the notion of green jobs “as real as the Jolly Green giant.” [ThinkProgress, 6/3/09]
SEN. JIM INHOFE (R-OK) has slammed clean energy reform as “unrealistic” and “expensive.” [Senate Floor, 1/8/09]
Today, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) declared, “As with the space program, this new mission will revitalize our economy, create jobs, and spur research, development, and innovation.” ThinkProgress’ Victor Zapanta has produced a video highlighting our generation’s “man on the moon” challenge. Watch it: