It strikes me that Wal-Mart and Arnold Schwarzenegger are doing something similar: trying to peel eco-activists off from the larger progressive coalition. And while two data points don’t exactly make a trend, it’s something greens should be pondering.
Consider: Wal-Mart recently announced some high-profile and fairly substantial sustainability reforms. Meanwhile, as this collection of Alternet coverage amply demonstrates, they continue to screw workers, bust unions, skimp on health care, and drive out local businesses. Somewhere in some boardroom, the calculation was obviously made that the company could afford some sustainability, and that it would help deflect activist attention, but that other reforms would cut too deep into the bottom line.
Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, has not been perfect on green issues, but has presided over some remarkably forward-thinking reforms, most notably California’s landmark auto-emissions limits. Yet, as Kevin Drum points out, for the most part he’s been a "standard issue business-pandering Republican."
Of course, Wal-Mart is getting bashed now more than ever, and Arnold’s very expensive slate of state initiatives just got crushed, so the strategy doesn’t seem to be working. But still, it’s something to think about: If environmentalists get what they want (or at least some of it), should they overlook egregious misconduct in the areas of, say, labor and healthcare? How strongly do greens stand with the progressive coalition?