David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Apr. 11, 2019 3 min read

1. In 2013, famed political scientist Theda Skocpol released an influential analysis of what went wrong with the 2008-2010 climate bill fight. It is still worth reading, as these are all still very much live issues.  https://scholars.org/sites/scholars/files/skocpol_captrade_report_january_2013_0.pdf 

2. Her diagnosis: enviros attempted too much of an inside-out strategy, focused on business & DC elites. They underestimated the need for public support & the intensity that the Tea Party would bring to the opposition. They did not understand the new era of hyper-polarization.

3. At @Grist, we had (if I may toot my previous horn) a fantastic package of pieces on Skocpol's analysis, including an expert summary from a then-obscure @pbump, who has since gone on to be big-time MSM guy.  https://grist.org/article/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-skocpol-cap-and-trade-report/ 

4. In particular, this article by a young @drgrist is worth reading.  https://grist.org/climate-energy/what-theda-skocpol-gets-right-about-the-cap-and-trade-fight/ 

5. I was so wise then. What happened?

6. Some lessons extracted by Skocpol, as interpreted by me:
a) Enviros vastly overstated Obama’s agency throughout the process & his responsibility for the outcome.
b) On public opinion, cap & trade supporters were too concerned with breadth & too little concerned with intensity.

7. c) Failure to fight back in the summer of 2009 was a fateful mistake.
d) Enviros were slow to perceive and understand the accelerating radicalization of the Republican Party.

8. I wish I could inscribe this Skocpol quote on the forehead of every wanker still dreaming of climate bipartisanship: "[T]he capacity of opponents to stymie carbon-capping legislation does not depend on general popularity or appeals to middle-of-the-road public opinion. ..."

9. "... It depends, instead, on leverage within the GOP, which in turn can use institutional levers in US government to stymie or undermine governmental measures to fight global warming." Exactly. A small, intense minority on the right can leverage the GOP to block ANYTHING.

10. I am extremely skeptical toward Skocpol's favored solution -- she has become a tax-and-dividend enthusiast, displaying toward it ... somewhat less rigor than she brings to her diagnostic analysis. I said as much here:  https://grist.org/politics/the-road-forward-from-cap-and-trade/ 

11. Perhaps the biggest lesson I drew from the Waxman-Markey fight: US government is broken. The system as currently constituted is incapable of even inadequate solutions. The filibuster alone ensures gridlock. Say it with me: the status quo leads to disaster.

12. This line of thought is very much in vogue now (@PeteButtigieg is articulating it quite well) but just let it be known by the 12 people reading this thread that I was beating that drum back in 2013:  https://grist.org/politics/if-you-want-to-pass-climate-legislation-fix-u-s-politics/ 

13. It was the Waxman-Markey fight, which consumed my life & career for nigh half a decade, that shaped my thoughts on current climate politics. I start with the fact that federal politics has become an utterly dysfunctional shit swamp & work backward from there.

14. The shit swamp has to be reformed. Incumbents won't do it. Big $$$ won't do it. What can do it? People power. There's no other answer. How do you build people power behind climate policy? Call for common purpose; promise benefits. A cause AND something tangible to fight for.

15. What can you promise ordinary people if they join this grand generational crusade? Jobs. Education & training. Living wages. Unions. Decent health care that's no longer tied to employment. A civilized fucking society instead of this rigged, ghoulish lottery of an economy.

16. In other words, you can offer them a Green New Deal. Choo choo, motherfuckers. </fin>

You can follow @drvox.


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