Beyond the Red-Blue Electric Car Divide

Should electric cars be a political issue dividing not just red states and blue states, but a person’s political and sustainability philosophy?  Yesterday, we reported on the 25 most electric vehicle-ready cities.  Morgan Cledaniel from Fast Company observed that cities moving forward with electric infrastructure are in blue states.  While the observation is an interesting and valid correlation, the red-blue electric car divide also leaves other voices out of the conversation.

The red state, blue state divide is quite frustrating, not just in terms of politics, but in how we view supporters of sustainability oriented businesses such as electric vehicles.  In regard to politics, it pigeonholes our party choices with just two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans.  The two parties have been in power for so long, together the parties can be thought of as one monopolistic political entity.

In terms of supporting sustainability, the stereotypes hint that Democrats are for clean tech, and Republicans are for big oil.  The blue states are for a bigger,  more controlling government, the red states are (allegedly) for little government interference.   The divide goes on and on.

But there are folks like me, that are caught in between that ideological divide.  We are not quite red and not quite blue, but most definitely green minded.  We’re folks that want an electric car and electrical car infrastructure, but at the same time think that federal government intervention is the worst way to do it.

Some folks think that we need government intervention to push clean tech forward.  Cledaniel says, that “the government needs to interfere in our lives a little more to make electric cars a feasible reality.”

On the contrary, I would argue that we need less interference from the federal government.  Stop all the oil and fossil fuel grants and subsidies (not to mention all federal subsidies), then we won’t even need the interference for clean tech and electrical vehicle innovations.

Intervening in one sector (oil and fossil fuels) just leads to intervening in other sectors (electric car infrastructure.)  Intervention leads to more intervention.  It’s difficult to freely compete with a federal government that picks winners and losers in the marketplace.

It would be interesting to note the feelings of government intervention in the marketplace if the tables were turned.  What if we had more fossil fuel infrastructure put in place in red states, thanks to the federal government intervention?  What would you think of government intervention then?

It is bitter-sweet for me to see such growth in the electric vehicle infrastructure 2.0.  The electric car shouldn’t even be a red-blue political issue, yet due to previous interventions from government, it looks as though it has become front and left-right.

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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