Our guest blogger is Open Left‘s Chris Bowers.
In explaining why he voted against climate change legislation in the House, freshman Democratic Representative Eric Massa said Monday that calls to his office against the bill outnumbered calls in favor of the bill by 19-1:
My final reason for opposing this bill was you, the constituents of New York’s 29th Congressional District. In the week leading up to the vote, our offices received hundreds of phone calls urging a ‘no’ vote. In fact, after we tallied the responses, the “vote no” calls outnumbered the “vote yes” calls by a ratio of 19 to 1. My job is to represent you, and that’s exactly what I did in casting my vote.
Even though conservatives pretty much always win the congressional office phone call battle through their enormous lobbying operations, a 19-1 margin is still pretty shocking. The margin is even more shocking considering that the vast majority of green groups in the United States put out high level action alerts to their membership urging them to call members of Congress in support of climate change legislation.
How could the progressive grassroots get so utterly trounced in activism on the climate change bill? One solid bet is because the messaging from those supporting the bill was patronizing, not entirely forthcoming, and full of cognitive dissonance. Supporters of the bill consistently had the following four activism-depressing messages:
- The climate change bill sucks, but we should pass it anyway;
- We are probably lying to you about actually trying to strengthen the bill;
- Strengthening the bill is not possible because it will probably lead to the defeat of the bill. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naïve.
- It is your fault that the climate change bill sucks.
Man, I want to get up off my ass and work hard based on that message. And this really was the message. Take self-styled climate change expert Thomas Friedman:
There is much in the House cap-and-trade energy bill that just passed that I absolutely hate. It is too weak in key areas and way too complicated in others. A simple, straightforward carbon tax would have made much more sense than this Rube Goldberg contraption. It is pathetic that we couldn’t do better. It is appalling that so much had to be given away to polluters. It stinks. It’s a mess. I detest it.
Now let’s get it passed in the Senate and make it law.