Activists want the Democrats to transform America. That isn't happening.
Among the stances of the progressive activist left, I am most sympathetic to the one on climate change (and I shared that stance myself for a time). But there are few issues that require pragmatic, data-driven policy and global, market-driven solutions more than this one; there is no other issue where moralizing, virtue-signalling, and symbolic gestures are more futile.
We have a perfect example of these dysfunctional strategies in Washington state. Cliff Mass has a good description here: https://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2018/10/initiative-i-1631-at-odds-with.html.
The quick summary is that two successive initiatives failed - the first because it wasn't extreme enough for the purists, and the second because it was too extreme and tried to appease the woke requirements (increase revenue by carbon taxes and appoint special interests to decide where the money should go).
What we really need is some functional governance where multiple factions can come together, figure out a reasonable approach that crosses the aisle, and pass some legislation that moves us forward.
I really like Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus - let's focus on interventions that have the best cost-benefit analysis!
I have a green business, I find myself perplexed by the mainstream rhetoric. The foundations of the sustainability movement, as far back as Jane Goodall trying to conserve chimp habitats, were about people, planet, and profit, which recognized that you have to pragmatically help communities who are dependent on extractive economies, before you can go full steam ahead with environmental changes. How did this get forgotten?
I'm building a house in a rural environment (Trump country) and have found that there is an ecological sensitivity. Those are the people who are actually growing and living off the land. I think there needs to be a pragmatic reckoning with how to make imaginative compromises so that we can all move forward on the same page.
Thank you for your lucid analysis of the political realities underlying action on climate change.
This article is where the potential of “Persuasion” (and other sites on this platform) comes into focus. Looking back 40 years, the post-Vietnam late 70s/80 saw both parties planting the seeds for today’s hyper-partisanism: Republican “wedge issues” to siphon support from a Democratic Party in disarray and the Democrats “single-issue” rebuilding and recruitment strategy after the debacle of Vietnam.
The focus on single-issue organizing and the internal competition within liberal special interests for political support and funding inevitably drove activists towards increasingly bold (often counter-productive ) demands to gain exposure and influence.
These writers assess the limits of the left’s cultural domination in practical political terms. It pulls no punches, carefully dissecting the political realities that have long blocked the goals of the ‘environmental movement’ (and others) while acknowledging a commonality of interests within a larger demographic/economic field of play that could lead us out of the climate quagmire.
Once single issue organizing and identity politics take on a moral or ideological character, they fall into the realm of culture, blinded to the self-interest of potential economic or political allies. It’s one thing for schools to teach kids to separate garbage and use plastic bags. But those actions won’t solve the climate crisis, just as corporate anti-racism clinics won’t stop police brutality and the terrible toll of COVID-19 within communities of color. A lot of farmers bristle at being labeled against the enviroment, and many Trump supporters do not consider themselves racist.
The writers point the way out of our hyper-partisanship by broadening these ‘crises’. They pre-suppose digging deeper into all facets of how we got here and building coalitions that unleash our commercial strengths as a country to solve its problems, even when it means making allies out of former opponents.
Our hyper-partisan, do-nothing log-jam won’t break up without bringing politics (deal-making, compromise, strange bedfellows) back to the center of governance.
As a scientist of certain stripe (physician), and a careful reader of periodicals, I am persuaded that human activity is an important cause of climate change. However, I am not persuaded that any of the proposed remedies will accomplish anything. It way well be that the damage has been done and we have to live with the consequences. It may well be that we need to build more nuclear power plants. Rather than listening to politicians blather in general terms about a nonexistent scientific consensus, I would like to see the scientists themselves testify before Congress, and in other public venues putting forth and debating their various theories. Instead, discussion around this topic has mirrored other partisan battles-name calling, cherry picking theories to support a predetermined outcome, and virtue signaling.
The proponents of the Green New Deal want to tell others how to behave. I would suggest if their convictions are serious, they should first lead by example- have no children, forswear airplane and automobile travel, and turn off the air conditioner.