When we were fighting the Keystone XL pipeline back during the Obama Administration, I learned to watch out for Friday afternoons. That was the Administration’s favorite time to put out a news dump, whether it was a faulty environmental impact statement or some sort of waffling delay of the project. We knew the Obama team was conflicted about the pipeline and increasingly realized that it undid all of their rhetorical commitment to climate action. But instead of showing the political courage to finally say “no” to the pipeline, they strung out the decision for years with these quiet Friday afternoon announcements, trying to bury the news at the end of a long week.
"It’s absolutely vital that the DNC and the climate movement stand with labor and workers across the country, but this is the wrong way to do it."
Saying “no” to the fossil fuel industry clearly still comes hard for Democrats, which is why on Friday afternoon, at 5:00pm ET the Democratic National Committee voted to reverse a decision they made two months ago to not take political contributions for the fossil fuel industry. This had to be one of the quickest flip-flops in DNC history, and if it hadn’t been for some attentive journalists (credit to Alexander Kaufman over at Huffington Post who broke the news) and addicted Twitter users, the Committee may have succeeded in burying it.
This sort of spineless corporate pandering by the DNC is why Democrats keep losing. Over 900 candidates have signed the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge but the party is still kissing the boots of Big Polluters. Grow a spine, @TomPerez. https://t.co/zlyVngHhxY
— Jamie Henn (@Agent350) August 10, 2018
Instead, their lack of vision traps them time and again in the false dichotomy of jobs versus the environment, a division that is especially absurd considering how few union jobs there are in the fossil fuel industry these days. Only 4.4% of fossil fuel workers are unionized. The solar industry alone employs more people than coal, oil and gas combined. The future of labor in America isn’t with fossil fuels, it’s with advocating for policies like a federal jobs guarantee to give a job saving the planet to everyone to who wants one.
"Climate, jobs and justice. That’s the vision that the Democratic Party needs to embrace."
So, what do we do now? The answer is certainly not to give up on Democrats writ large and stay away from the polls. 2018 has seen a wave of inspiring, progressive Democrats who are putting forward genuine solutions to the intersecting problems we face. As I wrote above, over 950 candidates have signed onto the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, a number that will surely top 1,000 by election day. More so than ever, we have champions who deserve and need our support. Getting these Climate Progressives into office, and into positions of leadership in the Democratic party, is what is going to ultimately change the DNC from a corporatist, centrist bureaucracy into a meaningful force for change.