While many Tesla fans aren’t happy with the Biden Administration right now, it’s important to look for the good and congratulate it. Today, we’re seeing U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg walk the walk instead of just talking the talk like most politicians do.
— davidshepardson (@davidshepardson) October 20, 2021
A security detail is something that’s meant to be mostly unnoticed. Yes, you want the bad guys who would hurt the protectee to know there’s a security detail, but you don’t want them to know all of the details and give the smarter of the baddies any opportunity to exploit holes in security. So, many security measures taken to protect VIPs are low-key and understated.
As much as we’d like to think otherwise, even the most guarded people in the world aren’t perfectly protected. When George W. Bush came to my town in 2004, I had a friend who wore a nametag, carried a clipboard, and had a cheap (but big) walkie talkie on his belt. He worked for the venue in question, and wasn’t trying to sneak into a secure area, but ended up literally bumping into the President of the United States without having gone through any kind of security check. He was, of course, bombarded with questions after this happened, but if he had been a person with bad intentions, the harm would have already been done. No amount of questions or after-the-fact scrutiny constitutes an “undo” button with things like that.
Given all this need for secrecy in the security of public officials, it would be pretty easy to just give them a cheaper car that’s easier to travel with. Nobody is going to make a big deal if Pete Buttigieg’s security detail drives a gas-powered car or even a large SUV. They might not even know it’s his security detail, or think there was a good excuse for it.
In other words, Secretary Buttigieg didn’t have to get his entourage to drive cleaner vehicles if he was a cynical politician who just talks the talk about the climate emergency. Nobody would have said a thing about keeping his security detail strictly gas-powered. He did this not because it would look good to others or elevate his green credibility, but because it was the right thing to do.
So, this does show where his real beliefs lie.
Biden’s Electric Federal Fleet Plan
Beyond showing one’s true beliefs, it also shows that the administration is following through on plans to make the federal fleet electric. Once again, there’s every available excuse for something like a security team to drive something gas-powered. They have to travel to different events, and the CCS charging network is woefully insufficient in many areas of the country that Secretary Buttigieg may travel to, for example.
Despite the availability of excuses, they are actually following through on buying EVs for federal use. We don’t know what they’ll do when Secretary Buttigieg needs to go somewhere the Mach-E isn’t easy to drive to (Montana, The Dakotas, parts of the Western United States). Perhaps they’ll use a different car for those rare trips, or they’ll have an employee leave early to charge it on level 2 at a hotel.
Either way, the plan to make the federal fleet electric is actually happening. Biden kept his word on this.
“He Should Have Bought A Tesla!”
Yeah, I know, I know. I can already hear the furious sound of fingers tapping glass and keys being pressed on laptops and desktops. “The Mach-E is made by Ford, and Mike Levine was mean on Twitter, and he blocked you when you harassed him.” or “The Mach-E isn’t as good as a Model X or a Model Y. Just look at the numbers!” or “The Mach-E is assembled in Mexico, and Tesla is American made by real Bald Eagles with revolvers on their hips in Texas! U! S! A! U! S! A!”
I know that’s a caricature of what people think, but it’s basically what I’ve seen over and over. You get the point (or should).
I really think we need to keep perspective on this.
First off, any EV is better than no EV. Whether they bought something from Ford, GM, Volkswagen, or Nissan, leading by example and switching to clean power is good. It might not be your favorite brand, but it is better than driving around in a diesel pickup or V8 Suburban. We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of good here.
Second, we also need to keep in mind the politics here, whether we like them or not. President Biden likes to do business with the car companies that play ball with him. The Mach-E isn’t made in the U.S. by union workers like he’d prefer, but it’s also not made by a company that doesn’t have any union plants at all. The fact that other cars are made here with union workers and that Ford was willing to let him use them as props for a speech makes it a lot more likely that Biden’s administration would do business with them. It is what it is.
There’s also the issue of Elon Musk repeatedly flying Democrats the middle finger. From the COVID lockdowns in California, to the comments on Twitter, to the decision to move the headquarters to Texas after the passage of controversial bills — all of that spent some of Tesla’s political capital and made enemies. For someone in the Biden Administration to be using a Tesla for official business doesn’t send the message they want to send.
Keep in mind that I’m not arguing for any of this. I’m just laying out the realities of the situation and trying to show why things are the way they are. Whether I agree or disagree, or you agree or disagree, is largely irrelevant. Things are what they are, no matter what any of us think.
Watching The Rest Of The Fleet Electrify
No matter what vehicles the administration is buying, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the federal fleet and see what they’re doing to electrify it. Will they continue this “no excuses” policy of electrification? Or will they chicken out? It’s great that they did this particular vehicle that they could have gotten away with not doing, but it’s on all of us to keep watching and making sure the fleet continues to go electric.
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