Citizen Action Monitor

McKibben giving up on Obama and the Democrats for “fiddling while the planet burns”

“We probably need to think about how to change the country, not the Democrats”

No 715 Posted by fw, April 09, 2013

Bill McKibben has more or less given up waiting for Obama and the Democrats to pitch in and help lead the transition in public opinion and public policy on climate change issues. Reflecting on two other revolutionary American movements, the Stonewall gay liberation movement and Selma Voting Rights Movement, McKibben concludes that building a mass movement is our last best hope.

In the following short passage, excerpted from a long article, McKibben shares his vision of the next step in working for “real change” on climate change.

And so, as I turn this problem over and over in my head, I keep coming to the same conclusion: we probably need to think, most of the time, about how to change the country, not the Democrats. If we build a movement strong enough to transform the national mood, then perhaps the trembling leaders of the Democrats will eventually follow. I mean, “evolve.” At which point we’ll get an end to things like the Keystone pipeline, and maybe even a price on carbon. That seems to be the lesson of Stonewall and of Selma. The movement is what matters; the Democrats are, at best, the eventual vehicle for closing the deal.

The closest thing I’ve got to a guru on American politics is my senator, Bernie Sanders. He deals with the Democrat problem all the time. He’s an independent, but he caucuses with them, which means he’s locked in the same weird dance as the rest of us working for real change.

A few weeks ago, I gave the keynote address at a global warming summit he convened in Vermont’s state capital, and afterwards I confessed to him my perplexity. “I can’t think of anything we can do except keep trying to build a big movement,” I said. “A movement vast enough to scare or hearten the weak-kneed.”

“There’s nothing else that’s ever going to do it,” he replied.

And so, down to work.

SOURCE: Bill McKibben, How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Democrats? Posted by Bill McKibben,, April 7, 2013.

Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, founder of the global climate campaign, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

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This entry was posted on April 9, 2013 by in climate change, counterpower of one, grassroots planning, social movements and tagged .
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