Is Rush Limbaugh Right?
A week ago today, 5,500 students from across the nation arrived at Powershift 2007, the first national youth summit on climate change. On Monday, upwards of 3,000 people packed into the offices of members of Congress to press them for action to stop climate change with clean energy development that'll create 5 million new green-collar jobs.
Inspried, informed, voting youth? Just the type of thing progressive politicians would seize on, right? Wrong. In another move by Democratic party leadership to be rid of their "do-nothing" reputation, a shoddy compromise on the energy bill may be at hand. Brian Beutler at Gristmill reported last night that basically everything the Bush White House complained about may be removed from the bill.
This isn't particularly surprising given the track records of the folks involved, but it is all the more disappointing given last weekend's activities.
Last Monday, Representative Ed Markey (a newly crowned hero) invited five young people to testify before the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence, one of whom was 18-year-old Cheryl Charlee Lockwood, a Yup'ik Eskimo from the community of St. Michaels on the Bering Sea. (Footage available here.)
Here's what she told the committee:
Just through my lifetime, I have seen so many changes in our community that it just hurts to not be able to have our -- it's really scary to live -- lose our tradition, our culture, and we've been living here for thousands of years.
And here's how Rush Limbaugh mocked her the following day:
"The Republicans are going to cut my school lunch money, too. I don't know what to do, Congressman Markey. Wah, wah, wah, wah. Nobody wants a child to cry. It's just an attempt here to tug at people's heartstrings. And, you know, to do whatever we can to make sure the child stops crying. And what do we gotta do? Well, we gotta stop global warming so the child's spiritual connection to her homeland and her communities and so forth doesn't melt away into the Arctic."
Limbaugh said all this to accuse the Democrats of "exploiting children" to further their agenda -- although Cheryl is an 18-year-old adult, not a child.
There was nothing exploitative about Cheryl's testimony: she came to Washington of her own free will. The Democrats will have exploited her, and the thousands of other students who came to D.C., if they use this new momentum to pass a weak Energy Bill.
Last weekend, students made it clear to these guys that they've got a powerful, large, and voting constituency at their back if they make the right moves on energy and climate justice. Now, these students have headed back to their districts with one goal: organize to win. If winning means taking out some spineless Democrats, so it goes.
Because when it comes to looking for leadership, we'll stand with Cheryl before we stand with Harry Reid.