Sunday, May 3, 2009

Why can't we all just work together?

With apologies to Rodney King, of course, I have to report that it happened--a coalition of very different environmental groups with very different agendas came together in one booth at San Antonio's Solar Fest. For an afternoon that we think will lead into a much longer tomorrow, Environment Texas, Oxfam, Public Citizen, and the organization I'm working with, the Texas Climate Emergency Campaign, put aside their differing takes on strategies and message, and worked towards one goal--getting Congress to move forward on legislation addressing climate change. We even made overtures of inclusion towards an outlaw table from the Environmental Defense Fund, and ended up defending them when it turned out that they hadn't registered; hey, let's give 'em a break, their hearts are in the right place, I heard myself say.

And that's what this campaign should be about--working together for the lofty, oft-satirized goal of saving the planet. We shouldn't be picking apart each other's agendas, wondering aloud if the American public can latch on to the hard facts about climate change, or ridiculing a focus on jobs or clean energy. We should shove all that to the back of the campaign bus and take a lesson from the glory days of the G.O.P.--one message, one voice, one call--for change. Instead of wringing our hands over the details of the bills currently in the House--the Van Hollen bill, the Doggett bill, the Waxman-Markey--we need to find a way to celebrate the honest fact that this Congress has produced a mandate for that change. Somehow, as Lloyd Doggett believes, this wealth of interest on the topic will result in a stronger bill that truly addresses the critical demands for action. In the words of that 40's standard, we have to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

This week I'll be meeting with various groups in San Antonio to increase the depth of this movement, taking the message to communities that have not been included in past efforts, partially because they had too much else on their plates, partially because no one invited them to the table. We don't have time as a world community to allow for the old outrageous divisions among us--we can't let anything stand in our way. Climate change affects us all, from the stock trader in his ivory tower to the mom home cooking lunch for her young brood. There are no opt-outs.

We're putting together a coalition that will stand for all time--a coalition of the people on the planet, all linked by the big blue ball on which they reside. We'll show the moneyed opposition, the corporatists, that we have the numbers, even if we don't have the dollar signs. Los pueblos, unidos, jamas sera vencidos.

The people united, have never been defeated. And we are united now. Watch out, Big Oil, here we come.

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