Meredith Angwin

Energy Analyst & Author

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton

Happy Independence Day!

Was Hamilton pro-nuclear?  Well, of course he wasn’t.  Nuclear power was not available in the 1780s.  But my title isn’t just clickbait.

Many of us have renewed  interest in our founding fathers, partially due to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s inspiring musical Hamilton.  Hamilton shows the struggle of America’s founders  in all its glorious messiness, unlike too many period dramas in which everyone “sounds a little nobler than they should.”

The musical is joyous, dramatic, inventive, amazing.  It also shows, without pretentiousness, that the Founding Fathers didn’t necessarily get along.  Many were too eager for personal advancement; others chased women that they should have left alone.  Many held incompatible views of how the United States should be governed, and what life in America should be like.  Some of the founding founders truly hated each other. “I could kill that guy…and I will!”

Yes. After Burr shoots Hamilton in a duel, we have the end of the musical, but perhaps the beginning of the questions. How did such a contentious group of people manage to found a country, defeat England, and write a solid Constitution?   Maybe the answer is: because they were contentious.  Because they aired their differences.  Because they were a real “movement.” They were figuring it out as they went along.

Pro-Nuclear Disagreement

We pro-nuclear people are contentious, too.  We have pro-nuclear leaders that believe that you should be willing to get arrested for nuclear (civil disobedience) and other leaders who think that getting an arrest record is a very bad idea.  We have groups that refuse to take a penny from any nuclear corporation. In contrast,  we have groups that actively fund-raise from nuclear businesses.  (I have a whole chapter in my book about this controversy.)

Pro-nuclear people have all these disagreements because because pro-nuclear is a movement.  Astro-turf has a careful script: movements are messy.

The pro-nuclear movement has old folks like me, and young fire-brands. It has people who write position papers (think the Federalist Papers) and it has people who go door-to-door to gain adherents (Paul Revere?).  It has songs and you-tubes (the equivalent of songs and broadsides, in the old days) and letters to the editor (think Benjamin Franklin) and more.

Unity of Purpose, Divergence of Methods.

I am pleased that we no longer have high levels of contention about advanced reactors versus current reactors. As a movement, we are looking at different ways to make nuclear energy an important part of the mix.  More and more people are in favor of all kinds of reactors.

Quite a few years ago, when I wrote my Prisoner’s Dilemma post, and Rod Adams wrote his Fission versus Fire post, people in favor of advanced reactors often bashed existing reactors.  And vice versa, of course.  Now that advanced reactors are being developed and the existing nuclear fleet is threatened, I see much more unity of purpose in the movement.  The pro-nuclear movement is truly Fission Versus Fire, nowadays.

Mostly Unity of Purpose, with many Divergent Methods. Pro-nuclear activism is a true movement!

Hail to the founders, and hail to today’s pro-nuclear activists!

Our legacy

As Hamilton says, people do not know how we will be remembered. In particular, we don’t know how the pro-nuclear advocates of this generation will be remembered.

But I hope we will be remembered in clean skies and moderate climates and non-acidic seas.

Hail to the pro-nuclear advocates of this generation!

Photo by Steve Jurvetson, Wikimedia