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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Greening the Dems — to Win

To follow up on yesterday’s post on the need to build some bridges of cooperation between environmentalists and labor, can we have a lusty “Amen” to the point made in the concluding couple of sentences? For many years, not a few environmentalists seemed to be saying, in essence, to workers “The bad news is that your particular job would be toast as a result of the reforms we advocate. But take heart, good fellow, the good news is that there will be net job creation.” Tough sell, that one.
Jock Young’s Kos post touched on one such highly difficult conflict — between the advocates of tougher CAFE standards and auto workers. This conflict is especially troublesome because of the central importance of America’s auto industry in our economy, and also because stricter CAFE standards can help cut our addiction to mid-east oil and thereby reduce the propensity of knuckleheaded political leaders to get bogged down in military quagmires in oil-rich countries. Not incidently, it’s also one of the key reforms needed to reduce air pollution and global warming. This conflict HAS to be resolved in a way that both protects America’s auto industry and it’s workers and drastically reduces U.S. oil consumption. The science has arrived. Now it’s time for the best thinkers in the Democratic Party to do their part to resolve the conflict, and there isn’t a hell of a lot of time.
“Energy Independence” is a great rallying cry. But somebody’s got to take the lead. One possibility is Al Gore, who deserves a lot of credit for raising the level of environmental concern in the Democratic Party, as well as in America and worldwide. It’s bitterly ironic that the Green Party’s presidential candidate prevented Gore from winning the presidency, according to one popular analysis of the 2000 election. But as grown-ups, we have to face the fact that the Green’s constituency didn’t come from nowhere, and Nader’s Florida vote wasn’t all about Nader. The Democrats’ track record on environmental concerns has not always been impressive — that’s why there is a Green Party.
But Gore’s emergence as one of America’s preeminent environmentalists, along with his savvy as a seasoned political leader who understands Labor’s agenda and just grievances, affords an opportunity to strengthen the Dems’ claim on Green votes. Gore isn’t running for President, but he can nonetheless play a pivotal role in building a bridge of solidarity between unions and workers on the one hand and environmentalists on the other — all under the banner of the Democratic Party. Give Dems a sharper profile as protectors of the environment, as well as jobs, and we will win the votes of Americans concerned about environmental degradation, including many Green Party members, Independents, swing voters — and even some Republicans.

One comment on “Greening the Dems — to Win

  1. JRBehrman on

    Sadly, we have company, rather than industrial unions today. Top-managers and union-leaders largely negotiate buy-outs or severance with an emphasis on their own personal benefits.
    Theirs are exit strategies that coincide with lobby-friendly Democrats — a few more contracts or elections and I am outta here!
    Needless to say, the only doctrine is a few more contracts, deals, … whatever, with an emphsis on immediate benefit.
    “Common carriage” — “off now, sweetie!”
    “Infant industry protection” — no seniority bailout!
    “Socialism for the wealthy, and capitalism for everyone else!”
    There is no place for science or engineering in any of this. It is all lawyers, all the time … green rhetoric, national security rhetoric, “words, words, words”, “buzz words” and legal jargon, mostly.
    The only “engineering” is financial.
    And, the results are utterly perverse: financilization, de-industrialization, seniority, brands, channels, subsidies, settlements, … and crap.
    Meanwhile, alternative fuels, diesel-electric hybrids, industrial efficiency, thermal efficiency, robust engineering standards, rationalization of rail, air, water, and road transport are all (to quote Monty Phyton) “off today, dearie!”
    I don’t know what is worse, the parochial legalism of our lawyer-ridden politics and unions or the superficiality of those as poll the buzz-words and or the venality of the consultants — both in the case of the DLC.


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