T. Boone Wants You

By: - October 6, 2008 2:22 pm

 Something new is afoot, my friends.  My first inkling came when I watched T. Boone Pickens appear in his own commercial last night, exhorting one and all to sign on to the Pickens Plan for energy independence.  Seems the mega-rich Okie wants us to kick our nasty foreign oil habit in favor of wind and natural gas.  Specifically, he wants supporters to demand that the next president develop an energy independence plan within his first 100 days.  T. Boo thinks it should require developing wind energy infrastructure, which could supply as much as 20% of our country's electricity per annum.  That would free up the natural gas that currently supplies 22% of our electricity for use in cars.  He claims this will reduce our foreign oil consumption by more than one-third.  Still with me?  Investing in wind will also bring jobs and technology to a lot of struggling rural areas.

All that's interesting, but what really fascinates me is the way this is going down.  Pickens has a website detailing his plan, and a personal blog, which is actually updated multiple times each day.  He's met with Obama, McCain, and Palin, and is trying to set up a meeting with Biden.  Although he's a longtime oilman, he's teamed up with the Sierra Club to promote this plan.  Now he's taking his message directly to the people with TV advertising, streaming video, the website, and a presence on all the major social networking sites.  He's gotten more than 600,000 people to join his "New Energy Army."  In other words, Pickens needs the people on this, he can't make it happen with his usual entree to power, the oil industry.  I guess they're not interested.

For the past however many years, we've seen the power of the people subsumed by the power of the plutocrats. the corporate interests, and the major lobbyists.  Ordinary people lost access to their representatives, and with the waning of the unions and the parties came the end of their influence over the process of governance.  That's probably how wages stagnated and CEO pay rose to almost 400 times that of the average worker.  But now T. Boone needs us.  He's offering us a way in on the ground floor of a new administration.  Is this democratic?  Is it an example of a powerful individual using his access to effect the change sought by millions?  Or is it the final degradation of our process, wherein we can see the change we want to see only because we're riding the coattails of one man who can get the powers that be to pay attention?  Will Pickens ditch us as soon as he gets his plan on the table?  Is this a rare window of opportunity for the average person to make something happen?  I don't know, but it's an interesting development.  William Greider asked, lo these many years ago, "Who will tell the people?"  Are we so accustomed to the notion that we have no voice that signing a billionaire's petition feels like participating in our democracy?  Or, is T. Boone Pickens the unlikely and unwitting messenger bearing news of a way back in?  I know politics makes strange bedfellows, but it's hard to believe that a man who donated millions to the Swift Boat Veterans for truth is going to heal our democracy.

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