"Popularity is overrated.”
|Emily J Gertz||Aug 23, 2019|
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The Democratic National Committee has again rejected scheduling a climate-focused debate.
A DNC meeting “erupted into a bitter battle Thursday morning over the question of holding a climate-specific presidential debate,” reports The San Jose Mercury News, “with party officials stamping down a resolution calling for a such an event in the face of raucous opposition from activists.”
DNC chair Tom Perez voted against the debate, according to The Merc. So did a Biden campaign advisor, DNC member Symone Sanders (who, however, “noted she was … speaking for herself and not a campaign representative”).
Those for it were led by Tina Podlodowski, who as party chair of Washington State is presumably an ally of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.
(Inslee, almost single-handedly, has propelled climate change to the forefront of the Dem presidential race during his now-concluded run for the White House. More on this later in the newsletter.)
Fairness is the matter at hand, according to the DNCers against. We can’t change the “no single-issue debate” rule mid-stream, they’ve argued, or make an exception for climate while denying single-issue debates for other vital issues.
I follow the deep twists and turns of Democratic Party drama as closely as the average environment journalist does, which is to say: not very much. But my reporter’s instinct is to ask if this argument is being made in good faith, or whether this battle is more about the party establishment trying to fend off its energized left flank.
I’ve noted in recent newsletters that according to Republican polls, two key voter blocs are notably unhappy about Trump’s climate denial and environmental rollbacks: suburban white women and young adults. Will that drive these voters to flip their 2020 votes to the Democrat, or simply sit out the election? Either way, it would be bad for Trump, and could help carry down-ticket Republicans out of office.
This is the reason Trump held that Potemkin village of a White House environmental policy event in early July: to start spinning up a misinformation campaign, to be amplified by conservative media, that his environmental and climate policies are sound, rather than destructive and largely unmoored from climate, conservation, and public health science.
So if the Democrats’ goal is to win the White House in 2020, then putting the Democratic presidential hopefuls on national TV for two hours straight to dig into Trump’s climate rollbacks and argue for their reality-based alternatives, seems like a good idea. It makes even more sense if the party also seriously contemplates gaining a majority in the Senate.
From that perspective, why not hold a dozen single issue debates as well, on how they’d solve the other issues where Trump, his administration, and the Republican Party are failing the nation, like ending gun violence, reforming the American way of health care, closing the nation’s shattering wealth gap, and defending our democracy against white nationalism and Russian manipulation?
I swear, I wrote everything you just read above before reading this bit in The Merc’s DNC story:
“California DNC member Christine Pelosi, the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called for holding a series of debates on specific issues including climate change. Her resolution was also voted down Thursday, but will likely come up again on Saturday.”
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I’ve been of two minds on digging into the climate and environment policy pitches coming out of the Democratic presidential scrum:
20 people running for the nomination?!? I’ll save my attention for whoever makes it to the primaries in 2020.
Hm, some these proposals are bursting with nerdy policy goodness…and they’re more uplifting than the latest Trump rollback. Maybe I’ll just peek.
If you’re in the “I’ll just peek” camp, here’s are a few of the hopefuls’ environment and climate policy proposals to check out:
Julián Castro’s “Protecting Animals and Wildlife” (PAW, aw) “includes an array of bold proposals, including making animal cruelty a federal crime,” notes Vox.
The Democratic hopefuls are “are talking about farming’s climate change connections like never before,” reports InsideClimate News.
Bernie Sanders’ newly released climate plan is the most sweeping yet proposed. “It would not only transition American society away from fossil fuels but renegotiate decades-old nostrums, championed by the right, about the respective roles of the government and the economy,” reports The Intercept.
Elizabeth Warren has broken new ground a plain specifically aimed at protecting public lands. “Her proposal includes an executive order (to be implemented on her first day as president) that would eliminate new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands,” noted Pacific Standard (which was just abruptly defunded and shut down by its main charitable donor). “She also calls for increasing renewable energy on public lands.”
Joe Biden put a finger to the wind, and then put out a climate plan that “adopts the rhetoric — and at times, many of the actual policy proposals — of the Green New Deal resolution,” reports the Washington Post. “But the campaign misstepped in another way on the plan after lifting language, often word for word, from environmental advocacy organizations in a sign for some progressives that he is not serious about the issue.”
Kamala Harris’ first climate platform, called the Climate Equity Act, “focuses on addressing equity and environmental racism, echoing the broader themes of Harris’ campaign,” reports Mother Jones, taking on “how to include low-income and communities of color—the frontline voices facing the most dire effects of climate change—in the legislative process.”
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and his climate action message have gained their biggest national spotlight yet, now that he’s opted to exit the White House race and seek a third term as governor instead.
FiveThirtyEight puts a realpolitik spin on Inslee’s aborted White House run, suggesting that while raising the profile of the global warming crisis in the campaign was a real accomplishment, “in the end, focusing on climate change wasn’t enough for Inslee to break out.”
The New York Times offers a more observational take on Inslee’s trajectory. “Shortly after he declared on MSNBC that he was ending his campaign, Mr. Inslee, suddenly, was trending,” reports The Times. “Virtually every other Democratic candidate tweeted their admiration for him. Former Secretary of State John Kerry thanked him for being a ‘strong voice’ on climate change. The environmentalist Bill McKibben floated his name for interior secretary. Even The Onion gently spoofed him, imagining that he had bowed out by ‘transforming into a majestic oak.’”
The Onion @TheOnion‘Don’t Worry, I’ll Always Be Here To Fight Climate Change,’ Says Jay Inslee Before Ethereally Turning Into Majestic Oak https://t.co/GVuzd8pn9t https://t.co/FIa0Vnjxho
Thanks for reading (de)regulation nation, a production of Brooklyn Radio Telegraph LLC.
This newsletter is written by me, Emily J Gertz. I’m a veteran environmental journalist and a graduate of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism ’s annual fellowship. You’ll find links to my past reporting and more biographical goodness at my website .
Please send tips and suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s quote is from the new movie “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” Via the Take The Lead blog.