Visit hopefully left President with nuanced view of Alaska

  • Saturday, September 5, 2015 6:52pm
  • Opinion

Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula

marked an historic occasion this past week as President Barack Obama paid a three-day visit to our state.

First, we’d like to note that, regardless of your politics, a visit from the President of the United States is a thrill, and we’re glad the Kenai Peninsula was a part of it.

Of course, President Obama came with his own agenda, highlighting the effects of climate change across the state. His visit pretty much stuck to the script — he spoke at a climate change conference in Anchorage, saw retreating glaciers near Seward, talked with subsistence fishermen and their families in Dillingham, and saw a seawall built to withstand greater storm surges in Kotzebue.

In fact, President Obama wasn’t here so much to learn about Alaska himself, but rather to use what’s happening here in an effort to spur action elsewhere. It’s an attitude that tends to rankle Alaskans, regardless of who the visitor happens to be.

But, like many visitors who come to Alaska with preconceived notions of what they’ll find, we hope what President Obama discovered is that this state is more vibrant and rich than what’s depicted on reality TV or in reruns of “Northern Exposure” — and that the challenges we face and potential solutions are much more complex.

During his visit, President Obama commented that he’d like to come back to Alaska with his wife and daughter. While we can’t read the president’s mind, we hope that sentiment is sincere, and that, with his visit, he has come to the realization that there’s much more to the story to be explored. Alaska tends to have that effect on people.

Now, we’re not advocating that a popular recreation area or boat harbor be shut down again so the president and his family can go for a hike or go whale watching.

What we are saying is that so many decisions about Alaska’s future — from energy to education to resource development to health care — are being made by people based on what they think they know about Alaska, whether those assumptions are accurate or not.

President Obama’s visit has made quite an impression on Alaska. We hope what he found here in Alaska has left just as lasting an impression on him.

More in Opinion

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink promotes getting immunized with the flu shot this winter. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s first act as governor was unconstitutional

That’s according to a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John Sedwick.

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.

Jackson Blackwell (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Carbon dividends are the bipartisan climate solution

By levying a gradually increasing price on carbon, U.S. emissions will be slashed by 50% in 15 years.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Dunleavy: Facts Matter

Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.

Steve Hughes. (Photo provided)
Voices of the Peninsula: We are all victims of COVID-19

It is disturbing to hear, as a triage nurse, the many reasons cited for not getting a vaccine that are based on misinformation.

teaser
Opinion: LGBTQ+ Alaskans deserve respect and dignity

Like every state that lacks equality, we need federal protection.