With over 1000 diaries published, truly few caused me anguish as to whether they merited writing or should I publish on the subject. This is one of those few.
Last month, Daily Kos' front page boldly proclaimed Orange-to-Blue: Our new questionaire. These seven questions, while "not a litmus test", set a clear standard for judging whether 'this community' should or shouldn't put it resources to bear in support of a political candidate.
Notably -- and far from just to me -- these seven questions gave no hint of priority to energy, environmental, or climate disruption issues.
When challenged, from outside this community, Markos' reaction:
How many good Dems don't believe in climate change? RT @drgrist: Daily Kos's new questionnaire for candidates doesn't have a single Q about climate or energy
Markos' flippant response misses the issue ... entirely.
First, this is not a question of "belief".
Second, there are Democratic politicians who would score well on the Orange-to-Blue test and who 'believe in climate change' but who are obstacles to meaningful action to mitigate climate disruption.
Third, among others, President Obama has commented that he needs others to create the political space for action to address climate disruption. Putting aside the question of whether this is a legitimate response, a simple question:
How is the political mandate for action fostered if contributors and activists don't make this part of the political calculus?
Action to mitigate climate change must be the single top agenda item for our political system if we are to have any hope to navigate the Perfect Storm (Peak Oil, Peak Water, Economic Disparity, Economic Downtown, Financial Stresses, Global Warming, etc ...) that we have created.
I -- hopefully not for one -- will not contribute an Orange cent to a political candidate, at any level or for any office, that does not provide a path to emphasize the importance of Energy Smart decision-making and policy.
As RL Miller put it the day the questionnaire went out, Revise your f*cking questionnaire, Kos!
"A handful of questions on issues of key importance to the progressive movement" omits any mention of climate, the single greatest issue for this and the next few generations. ... we already know that environmentalists don't matter to the Obama administration, but we do expect progressive candidates to have views on climate, energy, and environment. And a progressive institute of the stature of DailyKos needs to ask them.
Again, Markos responded:
How many good Dems don't believe in climate change?
Again, it is absurd -- even in a tweet -- to talk about "believe" ... As Dr Vicky Pope, the head of climate change advice at the Met Office Hadley Centre, put it:
When climate scientists like me explain to people what we do for a living we are increasingly asked whether we “believe in climate change”. Quite simply it is not a matter of belief. Our concerns about climate change arise from the scientific evidence that humanity’s activities are leading to changes in our climate. The scientific evidence is overwhelming.
In addition, it is absurd (should we say 'ignorant') to treat and view climate change as some sort of isolated issue. As articulated years ago, Peak Oil and Climate Change must be the TOP PROGRESSIVE ISSUES because failures to address them will doom progressive policies ... forever. And, well, addressing climate change and pursuing clean energy (with Energy Smart policies) is THE BEST PATH to seize opportunity and make progress. (See, for example, JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! for how Energy Smart policies and programs could put America(ns) back to work while setting the stage for a prosperous, climate-friendly future.)
And, well, Daily Kos frontpager Laurence Lewis put it simply: Climate change is the most important issue humanity has ever faced.
Yet, again, Markos doesn't see reason for including this in criteria for political contributions because 'good Dems believe in climate change ...'
Lowkell's response to Markos captured the issue:
@markos @drgrist The issue is how many Dems will fight for a price on carbon, for strong clean energy legislation, etc.
There are members of Congress and Democratic Party leaders -- such as Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) -- who would pass through the Orange-to-Blue questionnaire with (close to) flying colors who (even if they "believe in climate change") simply don't come close to passing muster when it comes to Lowkell's criteria.
Right now, the Democratic Party's willingness to give weight to scientific research compared to the Republican Party's doubling-down on anti-science syndrome hatred of a livable economic system represents one of the starkest differences between the parties and one where the American public has a clear sympathy with science ... but that differentiation needs emphasis and elaboration if the Democratic Party's association with sanity can turn into electoral power.
Earlier this year, I unexpectedly received a (not huge) bit of cash. For the most part, I decided to invest this in my children's future. Writ large, three pools of investment:
* College education funds
* Donations to environment organizations leading on climate-related issues (major (for me) contributions to Friends of the Earth and 350.org, with lesser donations to several others) and clean energy non-profits (such as SHE-INC: Solar Household Energy, Incorporated)
* Contributions to politicians who are leaders on climate and energy issues led by a large (again, for me) contribution to Senator Jeff "Energy Smart" Merkley (D-OR) via Act Blue Energy Smart (note: the page needs updating -- suggestions and thoughts welcomed).
As for the last, contributions via pages and paths like that make clear why the candidate is receiving support.
We can allLet me be clear, again, this is not the easiest of diaries to put out. From Wisconsin recalls to other elections, the Orange-to-Blue has provided visibility and a path to contribute to worthwhile efforts to use pooled financial resources (often $5 at a time) to help turn the political tide (even if slightly) toward a more sensible and progressive path forward. While far from the largest OtB contributor, my mouse has clicked and my credit card has seen charges. Yet, no longer ... I will do my part via political contributions to help make America Energy Smart.
Are you doing
your part to
A very simple pledge:
From now on, I will not make a single political contribution (whether to a school board candidate or Commonwealth representative or House campaign or Presidential election) without highlighting the importance of Energy Smart action.
UPDATE: A reader reminded me, by email, that the 2010 "Orange-to-Blue" did include energy / environmental issues. While the question was not, perhaps, specific enough to establish true differentiation, it was a meaningful question of the sort absent in 2011: "Do you think Congress should act to suspend regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency?"