Buying a hybrid has never been a more important expression of liberal ideology. While the decision to buy hybrid is certainly not a partisan one, and conservatives should be able to see that hybrid cars benefit all of us no matter what our political orientation, there are compelling reasons for any civic-minded liberal to make his or her next car a gas-electric.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing trend in American foreign policy wherein wars are being waged, and military actions are being conducted worldwide to increase the supply of oil to the U.S. Along with our growing oil supply comes growing oil dependency, a growing national debt, and a growing toll of dead U.S. soldiers. To support these costly endeavors, the government must raise taxes, cut important social programs, contribute to the out-of-control spiraling of the national debt, or any combination of the three.

The money siphoned from the pockets of Americans and/or social programs like those that support education, healthcare, and the environment lands in the pockets of large defense contractors, oil companies, the coffers of foreign countries, and a variety of other entities that make their living off of putting our troops in harms way to get more barrels of crude oil loaded onto ships headed for U.S. soil. Clearly, hybrid car technology represents a large step in lessening our oil dependency and reducing the need for military spending.

Oil dependency, and thus the success of "big oil," has also given oil companies a great amount of influence in our politics. As they have been benefiting from our need for oil, they have, in turn, used the money they've accumulated to secure their own future through campaign contributions and relations with other big businesses. It is in part for this reason that hybrid technology took so long to emerge, and why the U.S. companies have remained behind the Japanese since its introduction.

More broadly speaking, however, oil companies have created a system in which some politicians work on their behalf rather than that of the citizens by whom and on whose behalf they were elected. They also combat the effort to lessen the influence of money on politics by being able to invest millions of dollars to back their political allies forcing the other side to raise comparable campaign funds to remain competitive. A decrease in oil dependency means a decrease in the political influence of oil companies and companies in related industries.

The political influence that oil companies have enjoyed has also allowed them to be instrumental in supporting the creation of policies that cause tremendous harm to our environment. Specifically, our oil habbit and high rate of automobile usage has resulted in two phenomena that adversely affect our planet - oil drilling and air pollution. The former is necessary to some degree; hybrid cars cannot eliminate our need for oil altogether. However, our growing need for oil, which could certainly be significantly curbed by a higher penetration of hybrid cars in the automobile market, has led us to consider and sometimes pursue drilling projects in protected and valuable lands across our country. Recently, debate rages over whether or not to tarnish the pristine landscape of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Drilling already threatens the wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding coastal areas.

Air pollution, in part due to car emissions, also threatens Earth's well-being. Concern has been growing for some time now over the effect of greenhouse gasses and the threat of global warming. One look on the highway during rush hour and seeing the thousands of cars with one occupant clogging up the lanes is a good indication of how cars are contributing to this problem. Following the gas crisis of the 70s, legislators attempted to curb the nation's oil needs by implementing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. However, since their inception, oil companies have blocked nearly all attempts to raise these standards. Hybrid cars, through better fuel efficiency, reduce the need to drill for oil, and emit fewer harmful gases.

Since conservatives seem to be resistant to reducing military spending, correcting our foreign policy objectives, insuring that politicians work on behalf of their constituencies, taking money out of politics, and protecting our environment, we liberals must take it upon ourselves to pick up the slack. Today we have, at our hands, a new tool with which to help us accomplish these goals - hybrid cars. Make your next car a hybrid and drive it proudly, your country will thank you.

Article Contributed by Alexander D. Jonas

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