Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Warming Wednesdays: "Climate leaders don't frack!"

It seems a simple message, doesn't it? A small group organized by the Californians against Fracking Coalition (includes such stalwarts as Credo and Move-On) greeted Gov. Jerry Brown when he dropped into San Francisco on Monday to sign an environmental pact with Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

The California legislature, completely dominated by Democrats, has just passed and the Governor has signed a law (SB 4) that seems to allow oil extraction by fracking to go on in our state without much hindrance. In addition to communities' many concerns about watershed poisoning and water depletion, how is a huge increase in oil production compatible with California's commitment to do its part against CO2 emissions?

Credo activists say fracking is not compatible with the struggle to limit climate change. They urge a moratorium on developing California's oil resources until there is better assurance that we're not making a bigger problem.

The demonstration seemed significant to me because it highlights something that progressive activists need to understand as we work to save the country from the knuckle-draggers in the Republican party. Republicans are marginalizing themselves nationally by choosing to play to the resentment of a dwindling group of confused, aging white folks. This is a route to oblivion -- even these folks' children mostly don't live inside their nightmares.

But where Republicans fade away -- as in most of California -- politics doesn't stop. Instead, the interests play out their battles within the residual Democratic party. This is not evidence, solely, that money talks. It happens because, in a democracy, people with different perspectives and interests will find a way to try to get their preferences adopted by state structures.

So for those of us living where Republicans have been squashed, our fight for some years will be inside the Democrats. We need to get used to this and try to conduct the struggle with both vigor and some subtlety as we continue to marginalize the hard right.

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