Damn smart politics â€¦
It's refreshing to see smart, bold ideas from the left.
I'm at the Take Back America Conference -- say "hi" if you're here -- and, like last year, the Apollo Alliance -- the coalition of labor and environmental groups pushing for a national renewable energy program as ambitious as Kennedy's space program -- is being featured prominently.
It was the focus of yesterday's luncheon, with lots of speeches to go with the dry turkey. Harry Reid was in a forceful mood, and Robert Redford stole the show. (I'm able to report that, close-up, Redford looks exactly like his South Park caricature -- wrinkly and jowly -- but the ole' bastard still reeks of sex appeal and you just know he could have anyone in the room.)
Apollo has been much praised for its boldness -- it's been a long time since Americans were called upon to embark on a project with all of their national resources and creativity.
What impresses me is that Apollo is not only promoting a policy, but challenging some important political orthodoxy, namely that we've got to choose between progressive policies and jobs. It's a choice we're always presented with by the corporatocracy -- whether the subject is the minimum wage or trade policy or public interest regulation -- and it's a false one.
Apollo confronts that head-on, with the motto: "good jobs, clean energy." They claim the program would create three million high-paying, "family-supporting" jobs. Throw in independence from foreign oil producers and you've got a winner.
Yesterday's program came on the heels of last week's launching of the Blue/Green Alliance. From the steel workers' press release:
The United Steelworkers (USW), North America's largest private sector manufacturing union with 850,000 members, and the Sierra Club, the nation's largest grassroots environmental organization with 750,000 members, announced today the formation of a strategic alliance to pursue a joint public policy agenda under the banner of Good Jobs, A Clean Environment, and A Safer World.Leo Gerard, the President of the steelworkers' international, spoke yesterday as well, and said that he'd "catch some shit" from some of his members for the deal ("I always say: It's easier to throw shit than to catch it") but that it was a fight for his children's future -- another great frame.
Deanna and I were seated next to an environmental activist from Michigan who was working with the UAW. He said that the auto workers had always been hostile to environmentalists because of the supposed trade-off between cleaner cars and jobs. But, he said, they were coming around and had a newfound appreciation for coalition-building.
This is a silver lining; with union membership having tanked over the past thirty years, the unions have little choice but to embrace the broader progressive community. I think both sides will be stronger for it.
Quote of the day (from an audience member at a panel discussion on the media): "If we lose the net neutrality fight, we're totally screwed."