The pro-action side made a number of mistakes, as I’ve said many times. Here are three:
- Failure to create a grassroots movement that could seriously cost an opposing politician (as, say, the NRA can).
- Messaging flaws, especially by Obama, who simply didn’t use the bully pulpit to make his case to the public.
- Inadequate Senate strategy
Of course, making mistakes is not the same thing as shouldering most of the blame. Let’s not fall into the trap of the “blame the victim” counterfactual historians.
As I discussed in my June 30 post (”Republicans demagogue against market-oriented climate measures they once supported“), most of the blame should go to the anti-science, pro-pollution ideologues. They have spread disinformation and poisoned the debate so that is no longer even recognizable. Who could have guessed just a couple of years ago, that the GOP champion of climate action would end up trashing a bill comparable to the one he tried to pass twice?
And the media is the second most culpable group for their generally enabling coverage, which goes far beyond the science miscoverage — see Must-read (again) study: How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics — “The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress.” Indeed, there was an overall collapse in coverage of the story of the century (see Media herd’s coverage of climate change “fell off the map” in 2010).
Those two groups deserve about 90% of the blame (60-30?), I think (assuming that we assume the 60 vote antidemocratic super majority requirement is unchangeable).
Let’s not forget the “Think Small” centrists and lukewarmers who also helped shrink the political space in the debate (see “Michael Lind of the New America Foundation misinforms on both climate science and clean energy“ and “Brookings embraces American Enterprise Institute’s climate head fake along with right-wing energy myths“). Let’s give them 5%.
So ‘only’ 5% of blame goes to Obama and his team (along with Senate Democrats, scientists, environmentalists, and progressives) — see The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2: He let die our best chance to preserve a livable climate and restore US leadership in clean energy — without a serious fight.
I have more thoughts on the mistakes of the climate advocates, but I’m interested in hearing yours first.
What mistakes did the environmental community and progressive politicians make in the climate bill fight? And how do you apportion blame among groups on both side?
NOTE: Please, no counterfactual history, such as claiming the proponents should have talked more about clean energy and energy security — that’s ALL most talked about (see Can you solve global warming without talking about global warming?) Of that they should have pursued a strategy that had bipartisan and popular support — they did (see Why did environmentalists pursue cap-and-trade and was it a doomed strategy?)