In 2010, Oregon Progressives Need to Think Local

Jon Isaacs

In 2010 we need to think local. National politicians may not get it, but our leaders in Oregon sure do.

When Congress shelved the Clean Energy Bill last week I’ll admit that for the first time during the Obama administration I felt discouraged. Let’s just set aside a little problem called global climate change, which if left unchecked will continue to change civilization as we know it. Let’s just talk pure electoral politics.

On July 5th, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, reported that Democrats are planning on winning in 2010 by spending millions to mobilize the Obama 2008 electoral coalition of young people and communities of color, while doing reasonably well among white voters. The challenge is that although this was a great plan for a big turnout Presidential year, it has historically proven to be very difficult to pull off in midterm elections. The reality is that turnout among these groups typically drops precipitously in non Presidential election years. Therefore, any strategy that depends on breaking these historical trends has to be connected to a clear and motivating agenda these voters care deeply about. This is where the inability to pass a clean energy bill makes absolutely no sense.

Major international studies and domestic polling show that protecting the environment and addressing climate change is one of the most important issues to young people. Polls going back to 2002 have shown that communities of color care more about environmental protection then the population at large.

And polling recently conducted in four Oregon counties by the OLCV Education Fund showed that residents strongly support and want to see the Legislature work to creating clean energy jobs in their region. In other words, the dots are not being connected where they should be. And once again, the conventional wisdom inside the Beltway that the smart political move is to avoid clean energy legislation is bollocks.

With that rant aside, the reality is that Oregon’s political leadership - at all levels of government - get it. The failure of the federal clean energy bill in the Senate came despite the major efforts of Senators Wyden and Merkley to get it done. And we can thank Congressman Schrader, Blumenauer, Defazio and Wu for passing the Waxman-Markey clean energy bill through the House last year. When you add this all up, there's no question that it is imperative for all of us who care about clean energy and stopping climate change to work our tails off this fall. Let’s run down the ballot –

The last two sessions of the Oregon Legislature have been the two best pro-environment sessions since the 1970s including investing hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy development, which continue to create clean energy jobs across Oregon.

In 2010 we need to think local. National politicians may not get it, but our leaders in Oregon sure do. They continue to fight, day after day/week after week, to be part of the solution. If you care about protecting the natural legacy of Oregon. If you care about creating jobs through renewable energy produced in America. If you care about continuing to make progress then the only conclusion you can reach is that 2010 is one of the most important local elections in our history.

  • (Show?)

    It has been pretty sad to watch the administration crumble under their lack of courage on climate change, Elizabeth Warren, going after the stolen billions of taxpayer money given out as bonuses, taking control from BP, the need for stimulus, the public option, derivatives legislation, Gitmo, torture in Af-Pac, Shirley Sherrod, well, anything that seems even remotely important to Progressives is apparently off limits. Even demanding an apology from his own staff for calling Progressives "f#@king retards" is beyond the President. But if you're losing faith and that horrible realization that Progressives are staying home this election washes over you, I ask you to remember Jeff Merkley. He has been so stand up so far and so damn tough. He's OUR guy! Think of Howard Dean, speaking up even still, think of Elizabeth Warren forcing through a consumer protection agency over so many years, picture Sanders and Franken showing up for the fight every day. The administration has been a Progressive nightmare, sure, the healthcare bill and financial "reform" bills are brutal give-aways that don't solve any problems, whatever– there are still so many others out there still manning the guns, you gotta see a big enough picture to include them too and don't lose faith that we can fight back against the President and his team. We're only "f@#cking retards" if we give up. I can't thank Mr. Isaacs enough for this post.

  • (Show?)

    "Major international studies and domestic polling show that protecting the environment and addressing climate change is one of the most important issues to young people."

    The absence of Southeast Asia in the polling data you present diminishes it more than the inclusion of South Africa. Furthermore, if the majority of the youth populating the globe are sold on the idea that they hold the power to manipulate the climate of planet Earth, what are they doing to cool it down? Surely they must all be consuming few natural resources and living "carbon neutral" lifestyles. Somehow I doubt that.

    In my mind the reasoning behind human cause climate change is specious at best. Don't get me wrong, I see several benefits to lowering CO2 emissions, becoming energy independent, drastically reducing the amount of pollutants in our environment and all that. It all comes down to how we get there and the climate change bogeyman aint gonna get it done. Sudden, dramatic changes that amount to increased cost to the average person don't help either. There's a pragmatic approach to this that requires a gradual phase-in process. That will inevitably piss off the knee-jerk 20%'rs on both the left and right. We invest in modern nuclear power technology to provide base power load in addition to wind, solar & geothermal. Phasing out fossil fuel usage over time is a no-brainer. We continue to elevate CAFE standards for automobiles while understanding that passenger cars are not trucks. In the end, the most important poll results are determined by consumer/lifestyle choice.

    Sorry, but I don't believe Oregon is anywhere close to "getting it". Much as we may appreciate living here, it's a failed State sullied by bad politics.

  • (Show?)

    You've got it exactly right, Jon. I've been saying this for months to anyone who would listen.
    The dissatisfaction people are feeling is with Washington, and our message to voters needs to be about the good things here in Oregon that their vote in 2008 got them, along with how much our national delegation has done right. And that those things won't continue if they don't vote the same way this year.

  • (Show?)

    "...Democrats are planning on winning in 2010 by spending millions to mobilize the Obama 2008 electoral coalition of young people and communities of color, while doing reasonably well among white voters."

    Would those include the "f*cking retards" as Rahm Emanuel called us Progressives? I'm so angry at the situation before us, I could scream! But lucky for the feckless Dems (which certainly aren't all of them), my anger at them is only surpassed by my desire to keep the GOP away from the "grown-up table".

  • (Show?)

    The 20 somethings, so important in the Obama win of 2008 are done for now. Many will stay awy out of frustration, boredom and a feeling that they were lied to.

  • (Show?)

    This climate bill/energy bill, which I know by "Kerry/Lieberman", was a loser.

    If everything had gone according to plan with the cap-and-trade scheme (and the experience of Europe shows that it will not go according to plan), the bill estimated only a 17% reduction of CO-2 as compared to 2005 levels, as far as U.S. output of CO-2 is concerned. Pathetic.

    And, of course, the so-called clean energy bill contained $70 bil. in subsidies for "clean coal", which is totally unproven and would require such as massive construction of infrastructure, should it even work, that no appreciable reduction in CO-2 could be made in a generation's time.

    And, the bill contained the elimination of the EPA's regulatory authority of CO-2 (a previous author on BlueOregon had noted that a GOP bill would've denied the EPA's endangerment finding as regards CO-2 buildup, but he did not dispute the elimination of authority as contained in this bill).

  • (Show?)

    So, here's what Obama could do about climate change, and he could do it without having to get a bill through Congress: he could instruct federal agencies (the USPS, as the prime example) to kick-start the new technology market by instructing them to buy the latest stuff: for example, all new USPS vehicles should be electric-powered (after all, the USPS vehicles sit all night long, so there's the perfect time for re-charge).

    So we'd then start to get economies of scale with the latest battery-powered vehicles (I hear Tesla has a battery that will drive a vehicle 300 miles on a charge).

    I believe as long as Congress has appropriated money then Obama through the OMB, I think it is, has a lot of power to direct how the money is spent.

  • (Show?)

    Also, Obama could, as an important step in reducing CO-2 emissions, cut way back on the military's emissions (not only the debacle known as Afghanistan, but also why do such a thing as the joint exercises with South Korea? How much fuel was burned in order to carry out these exercises?- I heard that not only a large number of ships were involved but that they were escorted by scores of fighter jets.

    China will keep North Korea in line).

  • (Show?)

    Given some of the trends of thought here, I'd like to share my response to Carl, a fellow on another Oregon listserve who insisted that the Obama Admin. had declared "war" on teachers. Carl was full-tilt PO'd, and had embarked on a one man campaign encouraging voters to abandon the Democratic Party, all Democratic candidates and "skip" November.

    Here's my response to Carl; my take has broader application, so if the shoe fits...


    Your own "war" on the Obama administration is exactly what the Right Wing ordered.... There are a thousand cliches here, so choose what suits you best - "cutting off your nose to spite your face," allowing "perfect to be the enemy of the good".

    As a lesbian - and sadly, one who happens to hold an unused Ed degree - I understand better most the disappointment that always seems to follow the election of "our guy". But if you think that bailing on the Democratic Party and staying home in November is a solution, there's too much special flavoring in your a.m. java.

    You know damn well that 30 years of Reagenomics produced the supply side garbage that has defunded education, while the Republicans, in syche w/ the scheme all along, have advocated the privatization of just about every sector of the commons. If you think Ed Czar Arnie and Obama do Public Ed a disservice by not damning charter schools, just wait and see what happens if the Rs get majorities at the state and Federal levels. When they (re)effect their tired "just cut taxes" mantra, how do you think our schools will fare?

    But you know this. You're just pissed.

    Acting in anger generally produces bad results, and I could think of no worse result than allowing the Party that created this mess get back into full power and throttle up the destruction of public education.

    I'm not buying your Hunter Thompson-esq M.O., and I'm not accepting your blanket assumption that "all politicians are alike." I could recite long list of great elected Dems who are truly advocates for the people (Kucinich, Grayson and Schakowsky come to mind), but to be pointed and specific, as I write this I am sitting in OR HD 43. Lew Frederick, the Dem who represents this HD is dedicated to the people and kids in his District, and is focused on issues of public safety, jobs and, of course, education. He is a good man, a good progressive, and works his rear off for the folks in his District.

    You may choose to fight your battles in your own way, and where you mark your line in the sand can only be drawn by you. But don't detonate your NUKE - you'll be taking down more good people than bad, and leaving governance to the reactionary cockroaches who march in unison to the GOP Party cadence.

  • (Show?)

    Jon, From the article you ref:

    Six foot sea level change and all the glaciers melting? How can anyone take you serious? And then the UN, crack global body of respected folks, will then take our money to "help" the situation right? Please, you hammer on anyone that "denies" AGW in any way, then put forth trash like this? How about post a study that shows exactly what the effect will be on "CLIMATE" if all the developed countries in the world go broke reducing CO2 emissions? And better yet, please post a link to the climate model you think is so accurate that it deserves legislation? Is CO2 a trailing or leading indicator? Six foot ocean level change and no glaciers, and you wonder why some folks are considered climate whackjobs. You are so far from reasonable that coming to the table to even talk is a waste of time.

    "The report said 40 island states could disappear, in whole or in part, if seas rise by six feet. The Maldives, a chain of 1,200 atolls in the Indian Ocean has a plan to abandon some islands and build defenses on others, and has raised the possibility of moving the entire population of 300,000 to another country.

    Melting glaciers in the Himalayas threaten repeated flooding in the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow river basins, which support 1.4 billion people, or nearly one-fourth of humanity, in India, southeast Asia and China. After the floods will come drought when seasonal glacier runoff no longer feeds the rivers, it said."

connect with blueoregon