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"Protests — even ones that make people uncomfortable — are at times necessary to create change"

On Friday the Thirteenth: Legislative zombies and carbon liches


Yesterday, I attended a call organized by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Evergreen Action about the continued push by the network of climate lobbyists to pass the very dead Build Back Better reconciliation package.

“The bill is not dead,” argued Evergreen’s Lena Moffitt.

“We will win,” pronounced CCAN director Mike Tidwell.

Their Weekend-at-Bernies confidence seemed to be placed in the decision to trust Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) that when he said he was willing to support some version of the $550 clean-energy tax incentive package he was being honest.

This seems reasonable as long as you ignore every single action Manchin has taken throughout his career and particularly those during the Biden presidency. And as long as you ignore that he has all the political and monetary incentives in the world to keep stringing along climate activists and Democrats and making them look like chumps, and close to no incentives to accede to the deal.1

Tidwell noted that the civil rights movement won only after a generation of activists were beaten, jailed, and even killed for their efforts. Participants in the call were then asked to text-bank West Virginians to call Joe Manchin’s voice mail.2

CCAN’s Quentin Scott compared our movement’s situation to that faced by the Milwaukee Bucks in the fourth quarter of game five of their series with the Boston Celtics: down by 14 points with 10 minutes to go, the Bucks roared back to win the game with stellar play by Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Oddly enough, before the call I too used a basketball metaphor to describe the climate hawk-Manchin dynamic. It is stupid to agree to play basketball against someone who is several feet taller than you and owns the stadium. The climate lobbyists are not the Bucks. They are the Washington Generals, trying to win a rigged game by playing by the rules.

Participants were frequently exhorted that now is not the time to give up, even though, Moffitt admitted, the Biden White House has moved on. It would be nice if there were a path to climate victory that did not involve offending the sensibilities of Senate and White House Democrats.3 But there is not, and the tactics need to change.4

Oh good, the Paper of Record has some helpful coverage of social protests in our nation today: sensibilities are being offended.

In “Even the Demonstrations Over Roe v. Wade Are Dividing the Country,” New York Times reporter Zolan Kanno-Youngs discusses what he credulously calls “another searing debate about appropriate forms of protest at a moment of enormous upheaval in a deeply polarized country.” At one point, he skeptically considers:

“Rebecca Overmyer-Velázquez, a Whittier College professor focusing on global social movements, said history has shown that protests — even ones that make people uncomfortable — are at times necessary to create change.

Even protests that make people uncomfortable are at times necessary!

Sure, that’s what the scientist lady argues. Yes but: theocratic neo-fascists disagree.

The fossil-fueled effort for the 21st Century Great Restoration of the Jim-Crow Great Depression is right on track on the climate front as well, with devastating haboobs sweeping through the Great Plains, from Texas to the Dakotas. “The dust bowl is back.”

Over the next week, Sunrise is phonebanking for Green New Dealers Jessica Cisneros in Texas, Nida Allam in North Carolina, and Kina Collins in Illinois, all of whom are on the ballot against more conservative candidates, such as the oil-soaked anti-abortion Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reminded reporters is a “valued member of our caucus” whose vote “we didn’t need” for the Women’s Health Protection Act (or any other recent progressive priority).

Several issues of the Climate Politics Almanac will be hitting your inboxes soon to lay out the top races coming next Tuesday. I will put the finishing touches on those pieces as soon as I send this out.

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. DMs are open@climatebrad

1 Also, you have to ignore that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) very explicit desire to get the credit for busting up progressive legislation.

2 They were also invited to join a few Environmental Defense Fund staffers to hold signs and get swag outside the Senate. They were not, however, encouraged to sink Manchin’s yacht or key his Maserati Levante.

3 And convenient for organizations trying to maintain friendly relationships with Senate and White House Democrats.

4 Tactical flexibility is not giving up. One more side note: if Manchin and Sinema might at the end come to a limited deal that benefits the multi-billion-dollar renewable industry, then insisting upon that deal should be the job of industry lobbyists, not of climate-justice non-profits.

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