In 2012, vote for climate courage

Posted on

"In 2012, vote for climate courage"

By Bill Becker

A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William Shedd

Here is a trick question: Now that the 2012 election campaign has begun, should you vote Republican or Democrat?

The correct answer: Neither of the above. In this election, probably more than ever, it should be courage that counts, not party affiliation.

It’s the tough issues in tough times that are the best tests of courage – and right now, few issues are tougher in American politics than confronting global climate change. It requires that we stand up against godzilla vested interests and say goodbye to a carbon economy which has served us so long that no American alive today remembers life without it.

The lack of political courage is well documented in the emerging field of Republican presidential hopefuls.

Almost every prominent Republican who has announced or is considering a run for the presidency has changed position on carbon cap and trade, even though it is a “market-based” approach once promoted by GOP leaders. Here’s how The Atlantic describes current climate politics:

Supporting a cap-and-trade approach to greenhouse gas regulation is basically taboo in the GOP these days, but most of the top-tier Republican presidential contenders have backed it in the past”¦ Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find a Republican who supports the policy, after conservatives railed for two years against “cap-and-tax” as a job-killing government overreach…  Republican candidates campaigned against cap-and-trade en masse in 2010, and it worked out in their favor. After all that, Republican White House hopefuls have revised their previously held energy stances.

The flip-floppers include Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.   The Atlantic notes that Palin was obligated to give climate change a cool embrace while she campaigned two years ago with John McCain. Now Palin can claim she did it for the ticket and her feet are planted firmly in denial again.

McCain has no excuse. He was once one of the Republican Party’s most outspoken advocates of climate action. He cosponsored an early cap-and-trade bill with Joe Lieberman in 2003 and reintroduced the legislation in 2005 and 2007. He said then:

I have proposed a bipartisan plan to address the problem of climate change and stimulate the development and use of advanced technologies. It is a market-based approach that would set reasonable caps on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, and provide industries with tradable credits…offering a powerful incentive to drive the deployment of new and better energy sources and technologies”¦

In April 2007, setting the stage for his presidential race, McCain gave an energy policy speech in which he described global warming and America’s dependence on foreign oil as national security issues.  Two years later after losing the election, the maverick apparently had been beaten out of him. McCain joined other climate deserters in his Party and slammed President Obama’s approach to cap and trade.  By November 2009, he was criticizing another prominent cap-and-trade proposal – the Graham-Lieberman bill in the Senate — as “horrendous”, a “monstrosity” and a “cap-and-tax” scheme. As Politico reported it:

Former aides are mystified by what they see as a retreat on the issue, given McCain’s long history of leadership on climate legislation.

McCain’s reversal was so dramatic that Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times, called the Senator a “climate coward”.

When he was in the House in 1989, Newt Gingrich authored HR 1078, the “Global Warming Prevention Act”.  Its judgment about climate change was unequivocal:

The Earth’s atmosphere is being changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from human activities”¦.  global warming imperils human health and well-being (and is) a major threat to political stability, international security and economic prosperity.

Gingrich published a book titled “Contract with the Earth” and called for green conservatism.  In 2007, he said he would strongly support a carbon cap-and-trade regime,  “much like we did with sulfur”.

In 2008, he appeared in a television spot in which he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sitting together on a couch like chums, agreed that “America needs to do something about global climate change.” The ad was part of Al Gore’s campaign to rally public support for climate action. But by 2009, Gingrich was distancing himself from Gore, calling for more oil production and endorsing “green coal”.  In congressional testimony, he strongly disputed Gore’s interpretation of climate science and called cap-and-trade a “tax” and “secular socialism”.

He blasted Obama’s support for carbon cap-and-trade, saying it “would have the effect of an across-the-board energy tax on every American”.

(Then there’s Donald Trump [or there was]. So far as I know, he hasn’t flip-flopped on climate change. He’s just flopped. Trump says the big snowstorms last winter in New York prove that Al Gore should be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize. Actually, Trump just proved he doesn’t know enough about the science to talk about it. He complains that cleaning up pollution would make us “totally non-competitive” with China, Japan and India, who are “laughing at America’s stupidity”. Oh, and he has a piece of coastal real estate he wants to sell us.)

It’s not just Republicans who flop and flip-flop on climate change, or who simply don’t want to talk about it. Congressional staff in both parties acknowledge that “climate change” is not something their bosses want to discuss right now. In the aftermath of his bin Laden mission, no one can accuse President Obama of lacking courage as a leader. But many in the environmental community, one of President Obama’s natural constituencies, were disappointed that his support for cap-and-trade legislation during the 111th Congress did not match the conviction they heard during his campaign. Some conservatives whine that although Obama has flip-flopped on some issues, the media cut him slack and call him a “nuanced thinker”.

One has to wonder what a life in politics does to our leaders. I am not the only baby-boomer who remembers and admires John McCain’s uncommon courage and honor as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Or that moment in 1971 when a young John Kerry – who served with distinction both in Vietnam and in Vietnam Veterans Against the War – gave what may be the most eloquent truth-telling speech ever uttered before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Yet today, Sen. McCain is called a “climate coward”. Sen. Kerry, still a man of principle whose remarkable journey has brought him to chair the Senate committee he addressed 40 years ago, seemed shell-shocked during his presidential campaign in 2004 when character assassins from the Right Wing smeared his military service – a shameful and ludicrous attack under any circumstances, but especially when the candidate with questionable military service during the Vietnam war was Kerry’s opponent, George W. Bush.

The brutality of cage-fighting in the political arena today makes good people battle-weary and gun-shy. Yet political candidates are not forced into the arena; they volunteer. Fighting for us and our children is why we pay them the big bucks and give them special parking spaces at Reagan National Airport.

I’m writing about this not because flip-flopping is new or previously undocumented, or because changing one’s mind is always wrong. We grow, we learn. We come to understand that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” as Emerson put it.

But consistency in confronting climate change is not foolish. The reality of the threat is not a matter of opinion, belief or political philosophy. It is physics. It’s about accepting facts and probabilities, and separating from the pack if necessary to prevent an unprecedented security risk that extends far beyond our generation, our political districts and our nation. The 2012 election campaign is a fresh opportunity to judge the candidates on whether they have the guts to do this. Each candidate and every voter would do well to think about the observation by psychologist Rollo May: “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.”

It is instructive to compare what we hear in Congress and presidential politics today with what we hear from distinguished national leaders who have no axes to grind and no more elections to win. Consider the statement published in 2009 by the Partnership for a Secure America. It was signed by these retired government leaders from both political parties:

Sen. Howard Baker, National Security Advisor Samuel Berger, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Sen. John Danforth, White House chief of staff Ken Duberstein, Sen. Slade Gordon, Rep. Lee Hamilton, Sen. Gary Hart, U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, Gov. Thomas Keen, National Security Advisor Tony Lake; National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Donald HcHenry, Sen. Sam Nunn, Secretary of Defense William Perry, Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson, Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, U.S. Ambassador to China Joseph Prueher, Sen. Warren Rudman, Secretary of State George Shultz, White House Special Council Ted Sorensen, Chief of Staff of the Army Gordon Sullivan, Gen. Charles Wald, Sen. John Warner, Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead, Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, Sen. Tim Wirth, Under Secretary of State Frank Wisner, and Central Intelligence Director James Woolsey.

Here’s what they said:

Climate change is a national security issue. The longer we wait to act, the harder it will be to mitigate and respond to its impacts. U.S. leadership alone will not guarantee global cooperation. But if we fail to take action now, we will have little hope of influencing other countries to reduce their own harmful contributions to climate change, or of forging a coordinated international response. We must also help less developed countries adapt to the realities and consequences of a drastically changed climate. Doing so now will help avoid humanitarian disasters and political instability in the future that could ultimately threaten the security of the U.S. and our allies. But most importantly, we must transcend the political issues that divide us – by party and by region – to devise a unified American strategy that can endure and succeed. “¨”¨We, the undersigned Republicans and Democrats, believe Congress working closely with the Administration must develop a clear, comprehensive, realistic and broadly bipartisan plan to address our role in the climate change crisis. WE MUST LEAD.

The emphasis on the last sentence was theirs, not mine.

Bill Becker, Executive Director, the Presidential Climate Action Project

Related Post:

« »

34 Responses to In 2012, vote for climate courage

  1. catman306 says:

    Please show me a candidate with courage to address the fossil fuel/climate chaos issue. I’ll vote for him/her and encourage my friends to do the same. There are millions of voters in America who understand enough about the dangers of climate change to vote for climate courageous candidates. And there’s certain to be more voter educating extreme weather between now and election day.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    McCain doesn’t even have an obvious motive here. His beer baroness wife is worth $80 million, he just won reelection,and obviously won’t be running for president again.

    I disagree about whatever he showed in Vietnam. He actually sang like a bird, providing details to his captors about our bomber flight coordinates almost as soon as he was captured. Then, he shamelessly parlayed a phony narrative go gain power.

    His flop on cap and trade was not unexpected. He has flopped on just about every other issue, too, depending on the way the winds are blowing. John McCain is a liar, opportunist, and egomaniac, who has found a home in today’s Republican Party.

  3. Darn… as usual, lots of calls for “leadership” and “courage”, but no roadmap whatsoever to tell us how we can get there. There’s not even a hint of an acknowledgement that we need a roadmap!

    As I said, “we” don’t have a working strategy, because “we” apparently do not want one. “We” very much enjoy failing at what we try to do.

    I think I’ll write a blog post titled “How Wegmangate impacts Obama’s poll ratings”, just to sound deliberately stereotypical and provocative.

    frank

    [JR: Becker has published his roadmap here many times (see Presidential Climate Action Project). As someone who has written over 4 million words on this subject -- including several books -- I just don't think that every single post has to include all possible content.]

  4. with the doves says:

    Very good article, but this statement is a miss:

    In the aftermath of his bin Laden mission, no one can accuse President Obama of lacking courage as a leader.

    Because a person does one thing in one arena that requires a certain amount of courage does not negate the possibility that they lack courage at other times. The Osama raid had a huge political upside for the administration in the goofy gotcha brain-dead American “win-the-news-cycle” milieu.

    Dealing with climate change is a very different animal.

  5. Joe,

    The current “roadmap” by Becker is a “roadmap” for what Obama should do. This is pretty pointless. We don’t need to know what Obama can do; we need to know what Becker can do; we need to know what we can do. This is the roadmap which is critically missing, and which — strangely — nobody else seems to care about.

    – frank

    [JR: Hmm. It was a kind of centrist roadmap for any President, with lots of options to choose from if you didn't want to go the full Monty. Now the entire world has been upended by the tsunami of GOP denial. I don't know that there is going to be one 'roadmap' for every one. I have printed various pieces by various different people on what they think we should do, and I continue to do what I think is best -- get out the facts as clearly as possible. I'm open to your roadmap ideas.]

  6. Morris Meyer says:

    Perhaps you should go back to the ACES vote in 2009 and check to see how many Republicans voted for the first piece of climate change legislation to pass in Congress.

    I agree that we should vote and work for candidates who have the courage to look at the science and push for the changes that we must take. Unfortunately as your article points out these candidates are not found in the GOP.

    IMHO we need a Democratic Senate and pressure to reform the filibuster rules. Activists put pressure to change the filibuster rules for this congress, but we need to hold the Senate and the White House at a minimum to get legislation passed in 2012.

    We *do* need a working strategy for getting this legislation passed – perhaps similar to the Health Care for America Now plan for the Affordable Care Act. See http://www.thenation.com/article/153947/what-progressives-did-right-win-healthcare

    We need every climate voter to become climate political activists. Each hour you donate making phone calls or knocking on doors is another vote at the polls in 2012.

    Note: I am a member of The Climate Project and someone who put some serious effort into OFA in 2008 and Democratic candidates here in northern Virginia.

  7. Leland Palmer says:

    Well, Obama has shown some courage. He does indeed acknowledge the facts. Chu is doing good work.

    But supporting a President of the United States who seems to think that his hands are tied on the issue is hard.

    Obama’s emergency powers are essentially unlimited, according to Bush era legal scholars. Why he doesn’t just nationalize the coal fired power plants and forcibly convert most of them to BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) mystifies me. Why he doesn’t just nationalize ExxonMobil, and break the power of the oil corporations, mystifies me.

    Or maybe it doesn’t- a President- and his brother- who have defied our financial elite in the past have ended up dead. I refer to the Kennedys, of course, and JFK’s firing of CIA director Allen Dulles- the brother in law of Nelson and David Rockefeller, and a man who has done huge services for the Rockefeller dynasty.

    Allen Dulles also directed the Warren Commission investigation of the assassination of JFK, sitting along side Gerald Ford- who subsequently became President, and then who appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President.

    I believe the Loftus and Aarons version of history- it’s carefully researched by very credible investigators:

    Wikipedia- Allen Welsh Dulles

    Financial ties with Nazi Germany

    Investigative authors, John Loftus and Mark Aarons, have described Allen Dulles “as one of the worst traitors in American history, an economic version of Benedict Arnold.”[7] They suggest Dulles was instrumental in financing Nazi Germany.[8] Dulles, according to these authors, created a financial network among Nazi corporations, American oil, and Saudi Arabia.[8] Together with his brother, John Foster, and Jack Philby, Allen Dulles established an international financial network for the benefit of the Third Reich.[9] Near the end of World War II, Dulles successfully directed the smuggling of Nazi money back to his Western clients, carefully evading Allied surveillance.[8] Like Jack Philby, Allen Dulles is also believed to be an “archetypical upper-crust” anti-Semite.[10]

    So, maybe Obama is doing all he can. Perhaps he is simply wary of defying an elite which has arguably shown the ability and the willingness to engage in assassination, before- and which has evaded any consequences for the assassination.

    Certainly, results so far are disappointing. Chu and Obama are, however, being moderately successful at changing solar and wind technology, at least until the Republicans got hold of their funding.

    Yes, vote for courage. But Obama has shown some courage, and some realism. It’s a dilemma.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This post is wall paper. It gives us the same image of the
    American politics of climate change and as long as we stare at it, it never changes.

    Frank @ # 3 makes a good point..lots of lamentable history, portraits of character players, a hint at bolting from Obama, no real conclusions except…vote with your conscience. Give me a break! Would a reasonable person vote consciously to split the Dem vote and possibly elect some gumball repug?

    How about the signators of the Partnership for a Secure America (a seemingly entirely white people organization)statement agreeing, in the spirit of “WE MUST LEAD” to meet at Senator Inhofe’s office and refuse to leave until he recants on his suicide pact with future climate change.

    If the Capitol Hill police moved in and arrested those distinguished demonstrators I know the fur would start flying in Congress and the 2012 election for progressive legislators will have gotten off to a good start.

    I know, too much to expect that leaders will lead! Talk ourselves into trances; that is our MO.

    John McCormick

  9. Jay Alt says:

    If the “Leaders” are cowered as many suggest, what chance is there for the likes of me to make an impact?

  10. Jay Alt says:

    Leif @ 9, not “Jay Alt.” You got bugs in your server Joe.

  11. Jeff Huggins says:

    So?

    Bill (and others), I appreciate the intent and information in this post, and it does a clear job of pointing out the flip-flopping of the Repubs.

    But it’s far too ambiguous and subtle, it seems to me, regarding President Obama himself. Is the post suggesting (or vaguely implying) that Obama gets a “C” grade when it comes to courage, or a “B”, or an “A”, or a “D” or “F”? Is the post implying that Obama is the only way to go, simply because the Repubs all flip-flop? What does Bill suggest about whether, and how, WE can be courageous and actually do something that will make President Obama “get it” and find his own courage to DO something?!

    The climate doesn’t care about courage, it will only respond to EFFECTIVE ACTION. So even if we were to rate President Obama as being “more courageous” than the others in the present crop of candidates, our rating of him (and vote for him?) will do very little good if the degree of courage he demonstrates in the next term is anywhere close to the (incredibly low) degree of courage he’s demonstrating this time around.

    My own present view is this: IF (and only if) President Obama DEMONSTRATES courage and effectiveness regarding climate change in this term, starting NOW or VERY SOON, then I’ll vote for him, as I did last time. On the other hand, if he doesn’t — and if all he does is make promises and talk about “hope” again, expecting to gain my vote on that basis — I won’t vote for him again. This is, in my view, an active, responsible, productive approach — because it asks, and demands, what’s necessary, and it’s meant to prompt action. (President Obama himself has said that people should force or compel him to do what’s necessary. Well, that’s what this is about. The best way to compel him to do what’s necessary is to insist on it as a condition for voting for him a second time around.)

    On this topic we shouldn’t be ambiguous. After all, if we act as though we’ll accept President Obama’s present performance, and words only, and appeals to “hope”, as though we’ll vote for him on that basis — because the alternatives all seem worse?! — then he won’t change, or at least not enough. He’ll assume he has our votes and he’ll stick to the same campaign strategy and leadership strategy he has followed and is following. Hence the immense problem: he’s a great campaigner but (regarding climate change and a few other things) an ineffective and “wanting” leader. So we should be clear on what we want to see demonstrated NOW — before casting our votes, and as a condition for casting them. I’d be interested in your (Bill) view on that. Shall we set high (and necessary) expectations, and make demands, regarding what Obama must do starting now and in the next 12 months — conditions that he MUST meet if he’s going to earn our votes? OR instead, are we going to fatalistically accept and live with whatever politicking he finds convenient and comfortable to muster? Or shall we leave the matter ambiguous — even though ambiguity itself will defeat the whole point?

    I am disappointed with President Obama’s present approach. In my view, it needs to change. He’ll need to change it, regarding climate change, BEFORE the election if he wants me to vote for him again. And I think it would be productive if many, many millions of us took the same stand. Indeed, I’m beginning to think that President Obama’s lack of courage regarding climate change and energy issues is actually a BIGGER PROBLEM (to the cause) than anything that Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil, are doing or could possibly do. There is a leadership vacuum on climate change, and it is THAT vacuum that is doing more harm to our efforts to make progress than any other single factor. We have to fix that vacuum, and it should be “Job 1″ to do so.

    Bill?

    (To be clear, the post is great in all other ways, but I think it leaves too much ambiguous in relation to the questions just identified.)

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  12. [JR: ... I don't know that there is going to be one 'roadmap' for every one. I have printed various pieces by various different people on what they think we should do, and I continue to do what I think is best -- get out the facts as clearly as possible. I'm open to your roadmap ideas.]

    Thanks Joe. As I mentioned in passing before, Greenfyre is trying to start a discussion on creating a loose overall strategy for more effective communication of climate facts, but with little success so far. And as I wrote there, the particular problem I’m thinking about is this:

    can we grow an infrastructure that facilitates the flow of [accurate climate-related] news?

    The inactivists’ strategy for ‘information sharing’ has simply been to do brute-force copying-and-pasting. We bloggers on the fact-based side are averse to this, since we don’t want our blogs to comprise mostly of dittos — unfortunately it also puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to spreading news.

    So is there a better way to promote news sharing than to throw up another RSS or Twitter feed?

    and I further clarified:

    The way I see [it], the problem isn’t what kind of web site to create, but what kind of environment — what kind of information infrastructure — the web site lives in.

    To give an example: Someone somewhere says “trick [...], [...] to hide the decline”, and in no time, the entire sprawling network of inactivist think-tanks, faux-scientists, blogs, and Congressgoons have picked up the phrase, and are repeating it by rote in forum after forum after forum, day after day after day. And it latches on in the public’s mind.

    In contrast, when Denial Depot publishes something that’s actually intelligent and funny … what do we do? We mention it once (if at all). And then we stop. And within a day or two, the public has forgotten about it — if they ever heard of it.

    I mentioned Wegmangate above because I feel it’s the sort of news which can make a huge impact if the communication’s done right, but at the current rate is more likely to simply get buried and go to waste.

    Some initial thoughts which’ll hopefully jumpstart the discussion…

    frank

  13. Mark Shapiro says:

    Rather than climate policy, or climate legislation, I want clean energy policy. Whether a carbon tax or cap and trade, the goal is a clean (zero-carbon) energy economy.

    The benefit is more than climate security. Benefits include better health, wealth, national security, and safety.

    I know that this blog is ClimateProgress, not “energyProgress”, why limit the message to the general public to just one benefit of clean energy?

  14. Mark Shapiro says:

    “One has to wonder what a life in politics does to our leaders.”

    Just read “Nixonland”, or consider Lee Atwater, or Karl Rove, or Fox News, or Swiftboating. Or consider how powerful corporate public relations and corporate lobbying have become. Watch our press perform “on bended knee.”

    We see it every day. Every day. There is no need to wonder at all.

  15. Bill Becker says:

    Lots to contemplate here. Thanks for all this feedback. Here are my attempts at responses.

    On Obama’s courage: I agree he has not shown courage on climate. I should have worded my sentence differently, saying “no one can doubt Obama’s capacity for courage”. He pulled the trigger on bin Laden. He hasn’t pulled the trigger on cap and trade or on aggressive GHG reduction goals. I’ve said that in other posts, but could have been much clearer here.

    On McCain’s courage: What stands out in my mind is his reported refusal to accept release when his fellow prisoners had to remain at the Hanoi Hilton. I confess I have not read detailed accounts of what McCain did or didn’t say as a prisoner. But I can tell you as a veteran of combat that I have great admiration for those who served as prisoners of war and survived. And I don’t feel qualified, having not been in their prison stripes, to judge exactly how they survived.

    In response to Frank (No. 5), I’m a bit confused about what you mean by “roadmaps”. As Joe said in my defense (thanks Joe) I spent four years developing detailed policy recommendations across 18 different topic areas related to energy and climate security. One of those recommendations was that Obama mobilize his Administration, state and local leaders and others to develop a roadmap to a clean US energy economy, much as the UK and EU have done. We’ve talked with the White House about this. Our purpose in the Presidential Climate Action Project was to develop a huge menu of policy choices from which the Administration could choose, all researched to make sure they were within his executive powers. I also pointed out in a recent post that Obama, like Bush, has failed to fulfill his legal requirement to send Congress a detailed energy policy plan, which is required every two years. Shortly after that post, the President published his energy blue print, which I have subsequently critiqued. (See “All of the Above is not an Energy Policy”, Parts 1 and 2).

    If Frank is calling for me, and us, to have personal roadmaps, then I say this: I haven’t developed a map for the past 35 years of trying to push for energy and climate security. Instead, I have a clear sense of where we need to end up. My practice has been opportunistic, seizing every opportunity I could to make a difference. I’m now one of those old-timers who hopes to see our world become sustainable and people become human beings before I die. If I and my peers developed personal roadmaps today, they would show a lot of miles behind us and not many left ahead.

    On the larger question of activist roadmaps, my sense is that much of the environmental community has been disappointed, confused and reevaluating strategy after Copenhagen. I think — and I’ve said this in prior posts — that we need everyone to take to the streets, literally, as people did during the Vietnam and civil rights eras. As “Anonymous” says, we need famous people to stage sit-ins in Congress until the police drag them away in front of the paparazzi, something Jim Hansen has done in Appalachia. We need to be in the streets every day, pushing a very simple and clear agenda, until our leaders realize they will lose by doing nothing.

    I like Jeff Huggins’ idea (No. 11) of making clear demands in order for Obama — or anyone else — to get our votes. Perhaps we should develop a list of leadership requirements on climate and energy now, described in values and terms that resonate with the public, and call on everyone not to vote for any candidate who does not complete the checklist.

    On the relationship between us voters and our “leaders”: I have heard Obama say something along the lines that we must make him to the right thing. I get that. Elected leaders tend to respond to whomever fills their voice mails and e-mails. On the other hand, I can’t think of any leader these days who leads public opinion rather than following it; who explains a tough choice that’s not supported by his or her constituents; who educates as well as polls. So while we have an obligation to make courage safe, once it is safe, it isn’t courage any more. We need leaders willing to take risks in support of what’s truly in the world’s interest.

    Finally, in regard to Anonymous’s statement about vote splitting: When I wrote that we shouldn’t vote Republican or Democrat, but on the basis of courage, I was not implying we should vote for third parties or third party candidates. I meant to convey that we shouldn’t vote for parties at all, but for people, their values and their guts. I’ve known some good Republicans and bad Democrats in my time. I’ve never understood the rather brainless exercise of voting for the party rather than the person.

  16. Mintakan says:

    I’m not sure if “courage” is the main issue. As a leader one can show “courage” but may not win the election given the current state of the electorate and various institutional interests (starting with the House, Senate, the popularity of FOX news …). It’s a calculus or “art of the possible” (politics), and given competing interests, the best one can do is try to nudge the process forward. (Unfortunately, this is much too slow to do what needs to be done.)

    Rather than focusing on any leader to save us, change has to come from bottom up. There has to be a groundswell. “Leaders” will emerge when the votes are there, there’s a community/institution that’s “got their back”.

    As for strategy, it may work better first to focus on industry, esp. cost, scalability, economic competitiveness issues (e.g. Amory Lovins), to demonstrate and line up alternative technical options that begins to move away from the fossil fuel industry. (Getting the economics right can be a major engine for change.) Another area (big institution) of focus may be national security and the military (e.g. Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy). Another “large institution” for change may be states (e.g., California). A fourth area is international collaboration (e.g., DOE collaboration with China on development and to combat climate change). Lastly, we need those “purist” voices, not interested in seeking votes or winning office, who can speak directly about climate change (e.g. Bill McKibben, Van Jones, Joe Romm…), people who can work the mass media and popular consciousness.

  17. dbmetzger says:

    and down under in Australia…courage moves backwards.
    Australian Government Denies $40/Ton Carbon Price
    A confidential report from the Australian Federal Government has suggested $40 per ton is the minimum price on carbon to push consumers toward renewable energy. The figure is much higher than expected and the government is now rushing to denials.
    http://www.newslook.com/videos/314484-australian-government-denies-40-ton-carbon-price?autoplay=true

  18. Daniel Ives says:

    Joe,

    First of thank you for posting something of a more, shall I say, “heretical” opinion. By that I mean the author’s call to consider voting for neither major party in the 2012 elections. It is an option that liberals and progressives need to seriously consider, especially climate-minded folks, in my opinion.

    I think most people here would agree that supporting the Republicans in 2012 would be a disaster, especially for those motivated by clean energy and climate issues. So I won’t address that option.

    But personally, if you plan to support President Obama in 2012 and care about advancing clean energy, I think you are kidding yourself. Just wait and see. As the campaigning gears up, Obama will appeal to the disenfranchised left and say, “just give me four more years and I’ll deliver on the rest of my promises!” (including climate legislation). How many presidents seeking re-election have said those same words? And how many times will the left fall for it?

    For those who follow this blog, I have an honest question for you and I’d love to hear your responses. Considering how Joe has largely blasted President Obama’s record on climate and clean energy (see his posts “The Failed Presidency of Barak Obama” Parts 1 & 2), in November 2012 are you going to ignore all that criticism and simply fall in line behind the same guy? Will you do the same when voting for your representatives and senators?

    I know that voting third party risks a Republican victory and I know someone here is going to bring up the 2000 election. But the fact is that Obama and the Democrats KNOW that you are afraid of splitting the vote, so they expect you all to fall in line anyway as most liberals always have. However, if there actually was a credible threat that liberals would largely support a third party, they would be in a panic to get those votes back, and they would consider actually delivering on the promises instead of just flashy rhetoric. So how do you make that threat credible?

    You don’t do it by falling in line, suppressing your past criticism and voting to re-elect the president.

    Those are some of my thoughts. Joe, thanks again for posting something where we can discuss this.

  19. sault says:

    Obama is NOT going to pursue any major movement on climate / energy policy unless the votes are there. Some people are miffed about his lack of leadership on ACES, but look at the Senate at the time the bill died. Healthcare reform was going through at about the same time, and the Democrats had to bend over backwards just to get it passed through reconciliation and with the slimmest of voting margins to boot. Had a few members of congress jumped ship on the bill, a whole year of legislative sausage making and all of Obama’s political capitol from the election would have gone down the drain for nothing.

    ACES had even less support in the Senate and Obama was wise enough to know that it was nigh-impossible that the filibuster could ever be broken, even just to begin debate on it. An extremely watered-down climate bill was drafted, but Sen. Graham jumped ship at the first hint of rightwing backlash with the lame excuse of being spooked by potential, and totally unrelated, immigration reform.

    I ask all liberals and climate hawks disillusioned with Obama this one question: do you honestly think ANY amount of speeches from the Bully Pulpit or Fireside Chats to the American Public could have swayed ANY Republican Senators? Public opinion doesn’t really matter to them, otherwise oil subsidy repeal would have happened already. They are utterly convinced that the President is a liar (see Rep. Joe Barton). To top it all off, the facts don’t really matter to them either, since the mainstream Republican Party platform is that climate change is just a hoax, cooked up by liberals and those godless scientists to destroy the American way of life.

    If you want climate action, sure, get pissed. March in the streets. Go to town hall meetings with people running for Congress and get them to make their denial or commitment to action on climate change clear. Once the election’s over, stay pissed. Stay out in the streets. MAKE the media take notice of the issue. But don’t protest by staying home. We’ll get a President Romney or Santorum or Daniels. Climate action will be delayed for perhaps another decade and the Supreme Court will get packed with even more hard-line conservatives. This will make invalidating Citizen’s United impossible which could lead to a conservative hegemony for a generation or more. The human race CANNOT afford this outcome.

  20. John Atkeison says:

    There is a strategic solution if folks like those of us here will do it, and there are tactical tools at our disposal as well. We have a tough fight ahead, but we can win if we hurry.

    Strategically, there is no substitute for educating, organizing and mobilizing the electorate into more than electoral action. Action in the streets and everywhere else can shift the conditions of electoral politics. We have the luxury of using electoral means here, and we need to use it to impose the politics of survival, but it is not enough.

    The “business elites” and “political elites” or whatever you want to call them, have shown zero ability to give leadership in a society that they dominate/own.

    So we are left with the citizenry, which in a culture of democracy and a population that is relatively well-educated is far from a disaster. UNLESS the climate movement is so elitist that it is willing to accept “solutions” that cater to the class of people who are primarily responsible for creating the problem.

    I think cap-and-trade was a bad solution because it ended up trickling down the cost of that partial solution to those who were least responsible and most vulnerable, while allowing the polluters to avoid paying in various ways.

    Cap-and-dividend is a far better legislative approach and gives us a ready organizing tool in an actual bi-partisan bill that has been introduced by senior Senators. It prices carbon, and rebates the money to Americans to help offset increase costs.

    Working people can not support “solutions” that but their backs more firmly to the wall. There is little elasticity of demand (still gotta drive just as far to work!) and not enough opportunity to decrease carbon use voluntarily. So, as Joe has detailed here, we need to advance using many ways to dig ourselves out of the hole we are in and preserve a future.

    We are going to have to replace most of the “political elites” in the process, because we must impose our policies, rather than the policies of the polluters and their friends.

  21. dp says:

    maybe if we all pitched in to create a few hundred very well paid green consulting jobs, the political people would see those comfy private parking places we reserved for them to land, and courage to speak honestly would well up in their souls.

  22. dp says:

    *to land IN

  23. Mark says:

    I’ve long felt that the GOP are lemmings galloping for the cliff, and the Dems are lemmings headed that way at a fast walk. Does capitalism require nonstop economic growth? If so, then although climate change is mighty grim, it’s still just a symptom of a much more intransigent problem. Meanwhile, I hear we’re gonna add 3 billion more people by 2100.

    We don’t have a carbon addiction, we have a GROWTH addiction.

  24. Jeff Huggins says:

    Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful response, Bill (Comment 16).

    I like the idea of a statement of requirements (having to do with climate change and energy) to which a candidate would have to Commit (with a capital C) in order to gain our votes. And it should be crystal clear, concrete, and not merely full of “I’ll try my best” types of statements. We voted for “hope” last time. This time, let’s only vote (for Pres. Obama) IF courage, commitment, and effectiveness have ALL been demonstrated by the time the next election rolls around, i.e., BEFORE the election.

    That said, I had something more immediate and concrete than a set of requirements and commitments for next time (although that’s a good idea). For example … something like this (among other complementary avenues):

    Perhaps five people (together) should request a meeting with President Obama to occur within the next month. A thorough and serious meeting, lasting three hours (for example). The five people could be (for example) Jim Hansen, Joe Romm, yourself (Bill Becker), Paul Ehrlich, the head of the NAS, Dale Jameison (spelling?), and Roger Shamel, of GWEN. OK, that’s seven people. So be it. I’d add a few others as well. Make the request (for the meeting) public. If President Obama accepts the meeting gladly, great. That would be step one. If he doesn’t, he’ll lose my vote, for the next election, right then and there; and we’ll know that we should start looking for other candidates. This is what I mean by concrete.

    The point of the meeting will be to get him to “get it” and to begin adopting a full-court press, especially as it relates to educating the public courageously and rigorously and doing absolutely everything possible to DEMONSTRATE verve and commitment and to have the public stage set and ready to make EFFECTIVE PROGRESS going into the next election and after he is (if he does this, and only if he does this) re-elected. In other words, the intent of the meeting will be to “help” him realize that he must adopt a full-court-press strategy regarding climate change and energy, starting now, if he wants to be re-elected.

    Again, this is what I mean by concrete and asap.

    The test, then, will be this: If he DOES adopt such a strategy, within a few weeks after the meeting, he will have begun to demonstrate that he just might deserve our votes the next time around, assuming he sticks with that strategy EFFECTIVELY. Of course, if the meeting occurs and if he doesn’t adopt the full-court-press strategy, that will disqualify him (from our votes next time around, or from my vote anyhow), and as mentioned earlier, we can then have time to find a better candidate, in a third party if need be. Again, this is what I mean by concrete and asap.

    This sort of thing is specific, concrete, timed, and measurable. A group of people should request such a meeting. We’ll know right away if President Obama accepts or if he doesn’t. Then the meeting will occur (if he has accepted). Then we’ll all be able to see if his strategy changes within several weeks after the meeting. Period. If not, we should seek another candidate. Period.

    Keep in mind, of course, nobody should think of this as “theoretical”, too demanding, or anything of the sort. For goodness sake, the vast majority of the scientific community has been telling us, clearly, that we have a big problem and that time is crucial. Even the scientific arm of the Vatican has spoken out. The entire world can’t move forward, effectively, without us, and we (in the U.S.) have been holding things up for far too long already. What’s more, Candidate Obama TOLD US — PROMISED US — that he would face and address climate change with courage and verve if elected, last time around. We voted for him. So he already OWES US THAT. So, I’m quite serious that a top-quality group of five or eight or ten people should request a meeting with the President, NOW, and make the request public, and in the meeting insist on a change in his strategy with respect to climate change and associated energy issues, to be implemented within a set time-frame well before the next election, as a CONDITION of support in the next election.

    Call it “LOCCK” — the Long Overdue Climate Change Kickoff meeting — or something like that. Get a rich person to sponsor it. Take out a full-page ad in (anything but) The New York Times to request it. If the President turns down the meeting, or if he doesn’t change his approach soon after the meeting, then we’ll know that we had better start seeking a new candidate.

    That’s what I mean by concrete. There is (in my view) FAR FAR too much dilly-dallying around at this point. The dilly-dallying was perhaps OK ten years ago, but not anymore. We cannot afford, any longer, to “defer” to the games of politics. The only REAL game in town — and it’s not a game — is physical science. Science tells us that the stakes are real. President Obama should understand, and be told, that the stakes are real for him in this sense: If he wants to be re-elected, he’d better get with the program, asap.

    A beauty of this type of thing is that it can be started with a phone call and then another. Bill B calls Joe R. One of them calls Jim H. Then they call Roger S. Very soon you have a group of eight top-notch folks wanting and willing to meet with the President to tell him that his strategy must change regarding climate change if he wants re-election. Someone on that list will know someone who can afford the $75,000 to take out a full-page ad in (anything but) The New York Times to request the meeting. Joe can keep us all informed, on CP, as to whether the President accepts the meeting, and how it goes.

    We need ACTION. The scientists have told us, plentiful authors have told us, the Dalai Lama has told us, the Vatican has told us, common sense tells us, and we shouldn’t really need to be told any more. Call a meeting with the President. To me, that’s concrete, and that would be a great — and revealing — step forward. Let’s put people to the test, beginning with President Obama.

    (Bill, thanks again for the great post and response. I’ve written the present comment emphatically only to outline the sort of concrete and immediate nature of the sorts of requests that we should make of the President and the sorts of tests, yes tests, that can determine whether we should vote him into a second term. I gave him my vote once. I’ll give it to him again — but ONLY if he demonstrates that he deserves it BEFORE the next election. We need straight talk and courageous action at this point from him. If climate change is really the largest issue, or even one of the largest issues, that humankind has ever faced, then how can anyone possibly explain or justify the sort of approach that President Obama has adopted? Really?

    Cheers for now,

    Jeff

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The number of Republican politicians who have recanted their previous sane and rational positions in favour of imbecility and raw, suicidal, ideology dictated by the Kochtopus and mediated through the Murdochean brainwashing apparatus is impressive. Are there any examples of those who had the guts and integrity to stand by the most important truth in human history? If not, then you know that these are creatures not fit, in my opinion, morally or intellectually, to sweep the roads, let alone run the biggest global power.
    My recommendation, as an outsider who, like all outsiders, relies on some level of rationality and real (not just endlessly proclaimed and asserted)morality from the global hegemon, is that you MUST find someone to run against Obama inside the Democrats. Just who that would be, and how they would resist the siren call of the money power is a fiendishly difficult question to answer. Obama is, I believe, 99% certain to be worse in a second term than so far, but I could be wrong. So, as the probability of any Republicans of the Tea Party persuasion being worse than first-term Obama is 100%, if the Republicans put up a Tea Partier, it must be Obama. Chris Hedges at Truthdig has an illuminating interview with Cornell West concerning Obama. If the Republican is someone like Romney,or even, on a good day Gingrich, then the chances are that he might turn out, once in power, to be more rational and less in thrall to Big Oil and other vested interests, and govern like a Nixon, at least able to understand science up to a point and sane enough not to sacrifice the future on the altar of deranged ideology.

  26. Jeff Huggins says:

    Speed!

    Did you see this article, just now on the BBC?

    ‘Brazil: Amazon rain forest deforestation rises sharply’

    This is why — indeed, just one of many reasons — why sitting back, watching the clock tick, and either rationalizing or excusing President Obama’s current approach is (very simply) NOT wise or responsible. We cannot afford to simply re-elect President Obama merely on the basis that he is better than the alternatives. Being better than disastrously poor alternatives simply won’t cut it. We (apparently) need to motivate him in concrete ways to change his approach. And FAST. We should DEMAND ACTION and NOT vote for him unless he DEMONSTRATES, well before the election and on a continuing basis until then, that he can and will take action in every possible way, including using the bully pulpit more than it has ever been used before.

    I ask, how can we ask and expect Brazil to get serious unless WE do? And how can the President expect the public to get serious unless HE does??

    Read the BBC article, look at the picture of the trees being burned down. Then let’s figure out who should and will request (and attend) the meeting with President Obama I mentioned in my earlier comment. (I like the list of suggestions I mentioned, but I’ve undoubtedly missed a few folks.)

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  27. John L. McCormick says:

    RE # 37

    Mulga,thank you for citing the Hedges piece which I have now read. It was painful. I felt the shame Cornell West was put to when President Obama confronted him at the Urban League convention.

    One could be simply cynical and say West, after the election and certainly after the inauguration he was limited to watching on TV that he acted out of anger at being ignored and insulted. Then, one can see the product of Obama’s first year in office and the appointments, focus, priorities and decisions he made. I’m with Cornell West’s justifiable criticism.

    But, I, like many thinking and frustrated Americans am stuck in the slime of pragmatic politics. You are, as well.

    With 23 Senate Democratic seats up for re-election in 2012 and only 10 repug seats being contested, I live with the dread of thinking the damned repugs might take over the Senate and hold the House. And, to add apoplectic fear to the mix, with one of their breed in the Oval Office, America is finished for the next eight years and likely a generation as we turn from complacency to panic as oil supplies run out and big oil brings on oil shale and coal to liquids.

    It’s too late and many dollars short to create a third party or Obama challenger among Democrats. We have only Obama and the rationale (knowledge) that he does not have to play a centrist game any longer.

    I’ll vote for him because I have to!

    John McCormick

  28. Very interesting article, thanks for that !

    In France too we will have Presidential elections next year. And to date, no party advocates for realistic and ambitious CO2 cuts.

    The Greens want the country to get rid of nuclear, but with 80 percent of our electricity coming from it, this has no chance to happen (and this would increase emissions…)

    I have been waiting for a change in politics about climate change for years. I doubt I will ever see it. (except in the UK with their huge plans…)

    Keep up the good work !

  29. Bill Becker:

    I like Jeff Huggins’ idea (No. 11) of making clear demands in order for Obama — or anyone else — to get our votes. Perhaps we should develop a list of leadership requirements on climate and energy now, described in values and terms that resonate with the public, and call on everyone not to vote for any candidate who does not complete the checklist.

    As an extension, perhaps “we” can follow the example of certain Republican PACs that prepare ‘recommendations’ on how to vote, and rank each budding politician, whether aiming for the Senate, or the House, or the White House, along an informal scale from ‘Supports science-based action — vote totally for him/her!’ to ‘Attacks science with a vengeance — make sure he/she stays out of office!’ Such ranking will of course have to be based on a careful analysis of the politicians’ past words and actions.

    – frank

  30. Jeff Huggins says:

    Meeting With The President

    I think the following group of people (or something very close to it) should call — i.e., firmly request — a meeting with the President:

    Bill Becker, Joe Romm, the head of the NAS, Jim Hansen, E.O. Wilson, Dale Jamieson (who by the way will be giving a keynote address at the upcoming Fourth Annual Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress), Paul Ehrlich, Kathleen Dean Moore, and Roger Shamel (of GWEN).

    This type of effort can be started with a single phone call and, importantly, can have a coherent mission and message, and a timely (indeed urgent) one.

    I have heard speak, met with (at least briefly), corresponded with (at least briefly), and/or gotten to know (at least slightly) everyone on this list except for two of them. I think they’d all be GREAT. These people could agree to request a meeting with the President, could agree (I believe) on the vitally important mission and message of the meeting, and could deliver that message effectively and with utmost credibility from deeply relevant standpoints. Such a meeting could be a (necessarily) pivotal meeting in expressing the urgency of a very substantial “stepping up” of, and change in, the President’s focus, strategy, and approach having to do with climate change — to begin taking place (necessarily) NOW, well before the next election cycle. Although I don’t know what the people listed would feel about this next point, my own view is that it should be conveyed to the President that such a “stepping up” and change will be a condition for support and votes in the upcoming election. In other words, “Get your act together NOW” regarding climate change — including beginning to seriously use the bully pulpit, and all sorts of other necessary steps — and we’ll help you do that, OR ELSE we won’t be able to support you as the upcoming election rolls around. Period. The message should be one of deeply CONDITIONAL support — i.e., support conditionally tied to an actual and substantial change of commitment, verve, focus, strategy, and approach on the President’s part with respect to facing and addressing climate change and PREPARING THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS and UNDERSTANDING to address climate change. A message of “tough love” and of “support tied to conditions”.

    Indeed, the President himself has said, in essence, “make me do it”. But asking him to do something is not the same as “making” him do it. The only way to “make him” do it, apparently (given his performance so far) is to make his own re-election DEPENDENT ON him doing it. If anything can, that may get his attention. Let’s face it, that’s the reality of our situation. Denying that reality is no better than denying the reality of climate change itself.

    In my view, such a group should request a meeting with the President and make the request public — i.e., via a full-page statement in a prominent newspaper. It should be a deeply serious and committed meeting, no corners cut, not a mere half-hour “hi”. If I were this group, I’d ask for three hours at least. The issue we are dealing with is climate change, which is THE issue of our times if we believe our own analyses and words. There is no room for, or time for, shyness any more. And that includes on the President’s part — and especially on his part.

    Of course, people will be able to think of a dozen reasons why it would be “impractical”, “impossible”, “unnecessary”, “pointless”, “inconvenient”, “unreasonable”, “bad timing”, or etcetcetc for such a meeting to take place. And THAT is the problem with our thinking! We are enmeshed in our own (bad and self-defeating) habits of “defining down” what is possible and what is necessary. Until we all get over that bad habit, we’ll deserve the progress that we’ve been getting, which is very, very, very little. The people I’ve suggested for the list are “CAN DO” people, and are deeply knowledgeable and passionate, but they (or people like them) need to connect with each other in order to make something like this happen. Three of them are right here, on CP: Bill, Joe, and Roger. The others are within easy phone calls. Such a group could be put together. Such a group SHOULD be put together.

    Anyhow, that’s it for now.

    Cheers and Be Well,

    Jeff

  31. jcwinnie says:

    Starting up the same song and dance as part of political campaigns. No doubt it will fool some. I guess the humbuggery is better than the puppets not bothering.

  32. Lewis C says:

    Bill – whether people here could justify voting for a second term of Obama due to his courage on climate would surely depend on their interpretation of his actions to date.

    The conformist view is that he’s shown near-zero courage in failing even to attempt the simplest of the essential tasks, such as launching a strong program of climate education in America, and having the corrupt funding of denialism exposed and then prosecuted where justified, for fear of the invective this would generate from republicans and the fossil lobby.

    A rational explanation of his conduct observes that he has assiduously advanced the climate policy he inherited from GWB in all significant regards. For instance Stern, his chief negotiator at the UNFCCC, was recently instructed to actually undermine the treaty itself (thus again reneging on the US signature on the UNFCCC mandate) by claiming publicly that the treaty is both “unnecessary and un-doable”.

    Taking the policy of brinkmanship to that extreme, despite all of the pressure from his allies abroad and his erstwhile supporters at home, might be said to show a rare streak of courage. But, in reality, it is merely an irrational obstinacy driven by a vaunting nationalism that seeks delay until China is destabilized by serial climate impacts, in order to then achieve a treaty that would allow America’s relative global dominance to be maintained. This has nothing to do with courage in actually addressing the climate predicament.

    Given that neither interpretation of the president’s actions shows any notable courage on the climate issue to date, it would appear that voting for climate courage would lead people not to vote for Obama.

    So, having frozen out the climate issue for his first term, what are the chances of his reviewing the inherited climate policy if he were to gain re-election ?

    Given his track record, propagating hopes of that review (and the activist 2nd term it entails) to regenerate the campaign machine that put him in power looks distinctly problematic, but it appears his best chance of re-inspiring people to get out and help his campaign. Conversely, an absence over the next year of a rising volume of inspiring rhetoric about climate may be taken as a solid confirmation that he has no intention of reviewing the inherited climate policy, and has taken for granted the votes the issue holds and has written off the young Democrat campaigners for whom climate is critical.

    Seeing that Joe has written cogent posts on “The failed presidency of Barak Obama”, I wonder if you might be persuaded to give your thoughts on backing a climate-focussed non-left primary challenger as a means to ensure the climate issue is heard loud, clear and honest, and to give people somebody worth voting for ?

    Regards,

    Lewis

  33. 13Emeth says:

    The problem with this post is that how does one identify ‘courage’? Obama said pretty much exactly what environmentalists and (before they actually had a name ‘Climatehawks’) wanted to hear during the 2008 election and how did that work out? Basically candidates are always going to at best overestimate what they can do when reaching office and at worse lie about what they will do. The only way to confirm ‘courage’ would be to have a candidate sign some form of legal contract that states: ‘I will give 10 climate centered public speeches in the first five months of my presidency or resign’ or something to that effect. So what candidate is actually going to agree to the above proposal or anything similar? Any climate meetings can just be used as lipservice and ignored later. Obama’s huge failure was putting the welfare of 21-25 million Americans (healthcare, note that not being able to get approved for health insurance is different from not wanting it due to cost) ahead of the welfare of 6.9 billion humans.

    Overall it is clear that the environmental movement, and Earth in general, is slowly bleeding and the mindset of individuals like Mr. David Roberts is: ‘doing what we have done in the past will result in nothing more than eventually bleeding to death, thus we need to do something big even if it has no real probability of success.’ Basically a version of the old Emiliano Zapata quote, “It’s better to die on your feet than to live [and eventually die] on your knees.”

    The problem is there is no reason to realistically consider that a fiercely pro-environmental more than likely progressive third party candidate is going to win the 2012 presidential election even if all single-issue environmentalists voted for him/her. Recall that Ross Perot received 18% of the popular vote in ‘92, but 0 Electoral Votes, which means he had the exact same probability of winning had he received 2% of the popular vote; if you think a mysterious unnamed progressive candidate is going to do any better, then I would characterize your optimism as ‘catastrophically unrealistic’.

    Logic dictates that the best strategy is to re-elect Obama and hope that he takes the attitude “Time to do or at least heavily push for all the right, but politically ‘controversial’ or unpopular things I should have done in my first term, but did not because I was scared of the political consequences.” If there are no significant positive signs in this regard by mid-late 2013 then the environmental movement can execute their ‘vote third party candidate’ strategy for the 2014 election, which will create a build-up a momentum and movement strategy for the 2016 election.

    Finally how in the world does it demonstrate courage to “pull the trigger” on Osama bin Laden? Heck how can one even tell what courage is anymore now that society, including the above blog piece, has marginalized it so much? On its face it is difficult to conclude that talking about climate change is at all courageous.