07/22/2010 11:13 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Time to Play for First Place

I was recently rereading the President's State of the Union speech and realized that the key unifying message that the White House and Democrats need to be using this year was right there in the speech. The President was talking about how we move forward as a nation by investing in the future technologies that will drive the economy and create jobs. In short, he was calling on us to play for first place.

Here is what he said about our role in building the clean energy economy:

"From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious - that such efforts would be too contentious, that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for awhile.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question:

How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany's not waiting. India's not waiting. These nations aren't standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They are making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs."

The question that Democrats need to keep asking as the Republicans continue to cast vote after vote to stop progress is, "Why are you playing for second place?"