In the 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower championed a program to construct a nationwide network of highways to connect the nation. As a young soldier he had personally experienced the poor condition of American roads, and had seen first-hand on German autobahns how important a system of modern roads was for national defense purposes. The interstate highway system was born.
In 2008, we are in a similar position. European cities have some of the world’s best public transportation systems while Americans struggle with mediocre public transit and traffic congestion. Experts agree both our national security and solving global climate change depends on bold shifts away from oil consumption.
Will the next president step up to the challenge? That idea was suggested to me last night by David from Greater Greater Washington. Perhaps Barack Obama will cite personal experience riding Chicago’s struggling transit, or Hillary Clinton will describe New York City’s overcrowded subway, as they sign historic laws creating world-class transit systems in every American city. Perhaps John McCain, who voted against the last transportation bill because of its excessive earmarks, will sign a performance-based transportation bill to create energy-efficient transit systems nationwide for our national defense.