Max Weber Lecture on Wednesday 19 February, 17.00-18.30, Refettorio, Badia Fiesolana, San domenico di Fiesole

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ThedaSkocpol 3x4 with creditMaking Sense of the Past and Future Politics of Global Warming in the United States

by Theda Skocpol, Harvard University


Starting in the early 1990s, Republican and Democratic elites and legislators moved toward polar opposite stands on environmental and global warming issues, yet rank-and-file voters remained less divided and more open to environmental protections.  In 2006, when it looked as if most of the public might support government action to deal with global warming, right-wing media moguls and free-market advocates mounted a successful campaign to convince rank and file conservatives that climate science is a hoax and new regulations would hurt the economy.  By 2007, pressures from below and outside Washington made compromise impossible for GOPers.  Oblivious to this shift, supporters of cap and trade kept trying to strike bargains with business leaders and Senate Republicans.  They failed to build support across the country, and presented an anemic message that did nothing to counter worries that new carbon caps could leave families paying higher energy prices from shrinking incomes.  Most supporters of carbon capping recognize that the post-2010 Congress will not act as long as Republicans wary of challenges from the right remain in charge.  But what happens when another opening comes – for example, if Democrats take control in 2016 or 2018?  To be prepared when the next opening arises in Congress, organizational efforts must reach far beyond the Beltway – to knit together alliances and inspire tens of millions of ordinary Americans to push for change. 

You can find more by Theda Skocpol on this topic here