The article presents the issue this way:
At issue is legislation, introduced in January, that would give the coal industry tax breaks and other incentives to harness the abundant natural resource as an alternative fuel. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Obama and Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), promoted the idea as a way to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil.
I sent an email to Obama in which I objected strongly to this legislation. I told him that he can't honestly be for fighting global warming and at the same time propose tax breaks to encourage coal companies to increase pollution. This is rank hypocrisy. I also implied that if he did this he may lose my vote.
After a long wait I received a reply which stated that Obama was for green energy. I was upset, however, because the wording was ambiguous.
Today, I read:
Senator Obama supports research into all technologies to help solve our climate change and energy dependence problems, including shifting our energy use to renewable fuels and investing in technology that could make coal a clean-burning source of energy. However, unless and until this technology is perfected, Senator Obama will not support the development of any coal-to-liquid fuels unless they emit at least 20% less life-cycle carbon than conventional fuels.
I don't agree with this entirely. I don't think the taxpayer should invest in these technologies; the taxpayer should invest in renewable fuels. However, this is a big change.
And I had a hand in bringing it about. Of course, the article credits environmental groups. I am sure they deserve the credit. But I feel certain that my voice as well as many other voices helped sway Obama.
There are ripple effects here. What Obama says may influence what other candidates say and do.
I present this little incident not to boast about myself, but to demonstrate that in our democracy, each individual has a voice. You have a voice. If you don't like what any political leader is doing or if you have a better way of approaching a problem you're concerned about, contact the leader. Speak up. It will not always be heard. After all, there are many voices out there. But occasionally you will.
Candidates for office are more susceptible to accepting your suggestions because they are seeking your vote. But the same is true of those already in office. Contact them with your suggestions. You may be amazed, as I was, by the result.
As a citizen, you have more influence than you think.