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Creek Running North
March 22, 2005
I get letters
To the Editor:
Chris Clarke is right to suggest that "Red-state voters face environmental threats" ("Bushed Again, What Can We Expect in the Next Four Years?") but he's dead wrong when he suggests that John Kerry "assiduously avoided statements on such crucial issues." Mr. Clarke argues with no evidence that the "Democratic process" "involved rejecting any candidate likely to take a consistent stand on anything other than not being Bush."
Huh? Environmentalists should give themselves some credit. Not only did the Democratic Party choose the nominee with far and away the strongest environmental record of any candidate, but John Kerry campaigned on the environment in red states -- challenging the old conventional wisdom that caused past nominees to run away from the issue. In Louisiana, John Kerry stood on the banks of the Mississippi River with environmental leaders and focused on coastal erosion. In Florida, Kerry unveiled his Everglades proposal, and advertised on mercury poisoning. There was a plan to clean up Great Lakes pollution in Michigan and a fuel efficiency proposal that took guts to talk about in Detroit. In Iowa, Kerry laid out a plan to control runoff from factory farms and talked honestly about hog lots. Kerry went to Arizona to unveil a national parks proposal. He toured the west with a real alternative to George Bush's oxymoronic "Healthy Forest" scheme, and in New Mexico Kerry called for the protection of Otero Mesa. He campaigned on clean coal in West Virginia. The campaign advertised and Kerry campaigned hard on the issue of Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
John Kerry didn't talk about the environment in red states? In New Hampshire, Kerry used "green" issues to help turn the state from "red" to "blue" -- holding numerous events on MTBE poisoning. Good grief, Kerry even gave his Earth Day address in Texas -- in George Bush's backyard where the environmental threats are clear and undeniable.
Yes, we need to put the environment on the front burner of national issues again -- but we won't get there by falsely attacking a Democratic nominee who nearly won the White House, and who campaigned on the environment everywhere he went.
Former Press Secretary
John Kerry for President
Perhaps I should have used a word other than "assiduously." It's true the Kerry has as good as environmental record as anyone in the Senate, and that he has consistently spoken out against environmentally destructive bills in Congress. I'm pleased to hear that the Senator made all those good green pitches at his campaign speeches, and I'd like to thank him for that.
And yet the fact remains: for those of us not actually in attendance at those speeches, the level of mention of the environment during the campaign - aside from Kerry's stellar rhetorical assault on Bush environmental policy at that one debate - was pretty much limited to tepid mainstream media coverage of destructive Bush administration policies.
So why didn't Kerry's great record in the Senate, or the mention of local issues at stump speeches, make a dent in coverage of the campaign? Part is due to the increasing oligarchic nature of the mainstream media we've all heard decried time and time again... though not in the mainstream media, of course.
But part of the responsibility must necessarily lie at the feet of the Kerry campaign, which rather than forefronting Kerry's alignment with 75 percent of the electorate on green issues, seemed to reel from blow to Roveian blow.
I don't intend to point fingers, and you folks on the Senator's campaign staff deserve our thanks for fighting the good fight. I just want to learn from the mistakes we all made. We have to if we're going to stop the onslaught of destruction between now and 2008.
Posted by Chris Clarke at March 22, 2005 04:50 PM
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Perhaps a better word would have been "effectively."
I heard Robert Kennedy speak in NM, and a light went off in my head when he talked about having himself tested for mercury and the doctor's claim that his levels meant he'd have higher levels in utero--no problem there, since he didn't have one. Being a guy, the mercury was responsible for memory lapses, forgetting you put your car keys in the fridge, etc.
Knowing that suburban moms can rattle off their kids' IQ scores easier than their phone numbers, I realized appealing to swing moms on this issue meant framing it in terms of THEIR kids, not some nameless fish in a pond somewhere.
We (Dem message makers, I mean) need to begin to talk about the environment as a personal issue, not a collective (i.e. "communist") issue. More stories, less statistics.
My mercury-compromised thought for the morning.Posted by: KathyF at March 22, 2005 10:45 PM
We (Dem message makers, I mean) need to begin to talk about the environment as a personal issue, not a collective (i.e. "communist") issue.
I always tell writers for EIJ to 1) include personal stories in their writing where possible and b) stop being so afraid of the first person singular pronoun.Posted by: Chris Clarke at March 23, 2005 05:31 PM
Exactly why I enjoy reading your stuff!Posted by: KathyF at March 24, 2005 06:12 AM