Since our last update, 2 new co-sponsors have joined Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act – bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 35! Please join us in thanking the latest members on the bill.
- Rep Salud Carbajal (CA-24): https://twitter.com/foodandwater/status/997103841991626752
- Rep Darren Soto (FL-9): https://twitter.com/foodandwater/status/1009511179620716544
The OFF Act was also mentioned in a new Rolling Stone article published yesterday. The author does a great job putting the OFF Act into the context of this year’s midterm elections and efforts by organizers to push for more progressive policy platforms on the left.
The OFF Act is a bill offered by Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard that’s being pitched as the most aggressive climate legislation ever. The Act is supported by over 400 environmental and union groups, and co-sponsored by 35 congressional Democrats, including 12 from New York.
The bill would place a moratorium on new fossil-fuel projects and move all transportation and electricity systems to renewable energy by 2035. It’s the moon-shot of green energy plans, serving two purposes: reducing pollution and committing the country to a massive research and development project that theoretically would create jobs everywhere.
“I’m not convinced that there is a downside to this legislation,” says Todd Fernandez of Climate Action Mondays, “unless you get money from Big Oil.”
The OFF Act, like Medicare-for-all (supported by 75 percent of Democrats), the breakup of Too Big To Fail banks (backed by over 60 percent of Dems), and free higher education (even more Republicans support this than oppose it now, according to a recent poll), is exactly the kind of plan that increasingly appeals to disaffected voters in recent years. It’s sweeping, it’s expensive, it’s immediate.
Like a lot of those other initiatives, the OFF Act is also plainly designed to be something you can’t “sort of” support. It essentially outlaws fossil fuel use. If you’re in on the bill, you’re probably out on donations from Exxon-Mobil. There’s no middle ground.
“Like Medicare-for-all, it calls the question,” Fernandez says. “There’s no wiggle room with this.” Fernandez tried to get all the candidates in the 19th to sign a letter pledging support for Gabbard’s bill. Five of the seven did, which is a remarkable number. Like the sudden surge in support Medicare-for-all, it’s reflective of a significant shift in party attitudes.
Check out the article ,which is mainly about DNC change to its bylaws on June 8th that said all Democratic presidential candidates must be members of the Democratic Party, pledge to accept the party’s nomination if chosen and also promise to “run and serve” as a party member.
This was pitched in the media as a shot at Bernie Sanders. But it was really about changes in the political landscape extending beyond the socialist bogeyman. In the last few years, the bureaucracies of both the Republican and Democratic parties have seen serious challenges to their authority. Republicans were rocked first by the Tea Party, then by the Trump campaign, which from the start was aimed as much at the “bloodsucker” Republican establishment as it was at Democrats. Trump mocked the $100 million spent on “bottom of pack” Jeb Bush, then beat Clinton despite being outspent 2-1 and having, at various points, five or six times fewer paid staffers. Democrats are suddenly also dealing with internal challenges from candidates who are pointing fingers at the party’s traditional funding sources. The 2016 Sanders run was just the loudest. In New York, actress Cynthia Nixon is challenging incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo, whom she has bashed as an “establishment” gobbler of corporate money. (Cuomo has raised over $30 million, mostly from large donors.)
“It’s not just about getting more Democrats in office, but about getting better Democrats,” Nixon said in a speech this campaign season. “Ones accountable to voters, not corporate donors.” Nixon’s run prompted the Working Families Party, which historically backs the Democratic line, to dump Cuomo and endorse her. This follows a trend of alternative political organizations moving out of the fringes and becoming legitimate challengers within the Democratic orbit.
All over the country, races are being influenced by groups like Working Families, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Justice Democrats and Our Revolution, which has successfully backed a number of LGBTQ candidates and women of color. The victories are not huge in number. Still, these groups have unseated a few traditional party favorites. These include last month’s congressional primary win of single-payer advocate Kara Eastman (who defeated DCCC favorite Brad Ashford), the primary win of Idaho gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan (in line to become the first Native American governor), and the primary wins of two Democratic Socialists in Pennsylvania state house races. A lot of these races have been inaccurately described as being all about Sanders. Frankly, the run of Sanders himself was inaccurately described as being all about Sanders. The national media is so used to focusing on personalities that it often fails to see that movements can precede politicians. The real story, for years now, has been an erosion of support for the political system in general.
Since the post-Mondale changes, Democrats have had essentially the same business model as Republicans: Raise tons of money (often from the same sources and through the same new soft-money loopholes), buy ads, wait. It’s in this context that the recent DNC rule changes make more sense. On the surface, it seems like a non-strategic move, knocking Sanders and his 13 million voters – he polls as the most popular politician in the country – in the middle of a key midterm election season. But organizations like the DNC or the DCCC can’t only worry about winning general election races. They also have to worry now about losing market share to Independents like Sanders, other parties like Working Families and alternative nominating organizations like Our Revolution or the Progressive Change Campaign Committee – to say nothing of the proven vote-snatching prowess of non-traditional Republicans like Trump. There’s more at stake in these primaries than the November elections. The whole way the parties do business is in play.
“We should be working to make the party more inclusive, rather than exclusive and narrow,” said the 29-year-old former Cuomo aide. “There’s a reason one-third of the voters in our district are unaffiliated with either party, and unless we do something to bring them in, we’re going to continue to lose them.” Beals, who as the most outspoken representative of the Sanders movement would most naturally take offense, had the most creative answer. He compared the DNC change to the infamous loyalty oath crusade from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. In the book, soldiers in battle are paralyzed by the need to keep signing patriotic pledges to fulfill the officers’ insane policy of “Continual Reaffirmation.” “You know you’re in trouble when you have to start demanding oaths and pledges to keep the party together,” Beals said. “Let’s just rally huge majorities to a platform people want to support and represent, and the loyalty will follow.”
The DNC isn’t the only group asking for pledges. Activist groups are increasingly putting pressure on Democratic candidates, including those of the 19ht district, to declare themselves on dividing-line issues.
An example is the OFF Act, a bill offered by Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard that’s being pitched as the most aggressive climate legislation ever. The Act is supported by over 400 environmental and union groups, and co-sponsored by 35 congressional Democrats…
Beals talked about how the challenge facing Democrats isn’t getting votes from Republicans or turning out Dems, but facing the fact that most people are so grossed out by politics that they simply don’t care anymore and don’t vote. “That’s what I think is going on,” Beals said. “I think most people don’t even vote. And I think most of our political discussion has become a big charade, where we talk about issues, but we don’t change them. Big money and corporate power control our politics.”
The modern Democratic Party strategy for winning elections was cooked up in the ’80s. The post-Mondale path to victory was designed around cash, and constructed by groups like the Democratic Leadership Council (tabbed by Jesse Jackson as “Democrats for the Leisure Class“). The problem is that 30 years have passed, and none of those definitions still fit. There is no middle anymore. Disaffected Republicans and Independents in places like the 19th are as likely to want reduced military commitments abroad and increased bank regulation as they are to crave the “pro-growth” pseudo-conservatism Democrats used to lure back white working class voters in Bill Clinton’s day. The party’s conventional wisdom is as outdated as your parents’ taste in music, and it seems determined to keep out the new sound.
Finally, I wanted to share a new report FWW released today on the environmental justice impacts of power plants in Pennsylvania. The report confirms what a lot of us already know, but it’s the first of its kind and especially relevant given the massive push to build more fracked-gas infrastructure in PA and elsewhere and obviously adds the case for legislation like the OFF Act!
- Communities of color and lower-income areas are disproportionately burdened by toxic polluters. Pennsylvania’s fracked gas plants are no exception. Learn more in @foodandwater‘s new PA #environmentaljustice report: https://fwwat.ch/2K6Wsrq
- In Pennsylvania, 39% of the population living within 3 miles of existing & proposed gas plants are people of color, compared with 22% overall. This is environmental racism. @foodandwater’s new report explains: https://fwwat.ch/2K6Wsrq
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