Michael Hoexter in New Economic Perspectives has this:

Democratic Party Platform 7/1/16 Draft Would Lock In Catastrophic Climate Change

Party platforms are the one place, every four years, for American political parties to project a unified vision to the public at large, even if that vision is only used as an electioneering tool and not as a basis for policymaking.  For the Democratic Party, as the leftward or supposedly “liberal” major Party, this means that the Platform would be a place where political ideals and plans, if they are at all tangential to upcoming policy initiatives, might be expressed.

Once again, the message is that wishy-washy language will not deflect the inevitable attacks but bold and specific language with good background fleshing out of the plank will both attract support, inform the campaign debate, and provide the framework for rapid delivery once in office.  There needs to be a (1) a credible plan for offsetting the jobs currently in the fossil fuel sector and (2) a credible plan for how rewriting the tax code will cover the costs of the proposals within a finite time.
Hoexter argues that the timing of the locking in of global catastrophic climate change has now reached an point of no return and that the failure to act implied in the Democratic Party Platform is a failure of fundamental governance–the building of a vision and a mandate.

Hoexter then turns to address the specific weaknesses in the platform:

  1. The preamble is a call for kum-bah-yah politics without any urgency, especially with respect to responding to climate change (not to mention other areas of collapse).
  2. The preamble statement of climate change, although corrects, lacks motivating language.

Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.

Unfortunately, the reality of climate change is not a matter of “belief”.  Also, dealing with climate change involves more than just changing the energy infrastructure of the US economy.  Mitigating the consequences of 30 years of inaction is also a necessary issue that should of rights motivate action.

Hoexter proposes:

Despite progress in some areas over the past 8 years, we are faced with twin challenges: not only are many Americans falling behind or left out of prosperity and a sense of social belonging but also we have not yet fully faced our greatest challenge: the imminent danger of catastrophic climate change.  We Democrats think though, as in facing the Great Depression, World War II and the superpower competition with the Soviet Union, the fundamental solutions to our multiple large-scale social problems should and must be addressed through the work of Americans and government together.  We Democrats believe that the best solution to our multiple sustainability dilemmas involves creating by government financial instruments, which have always been at our disposal, a full employment economy that pushes our society within a decade to a post-fossil fuel economy where everybody participates in just, equitable reward and also, for a time, shared sacrifice.

As part of a great mobilization to save our American civilization from likely destruction from eventual famine, flood, drought, or other climate-related calamities, we must via a combination of replacing fossil energy with renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements, and conservation reduce annually our global warming emissions by 10% or more per year until they are at zero within less than a decade.  We can do this by building an all-electric energy infrastructure powered by renewable energy that also uses energy and resources wisely.  As we have done in the past, government initiative and finance will help individuals, families, businesses and nonprofit public service agencies create together a livable prosperous future for all Americans.  Government leaders will also ask for reasonable sacrifices or conservation efforts such as choosing to ride bicycles on safe bike routes rather than drive, which may also function as life enhancing options.  The achievement of targets of a 10% reduction in emissions per year over a period of 10 years will create a net zero emissions society.  A list of some initiatives follows:

  1. Declaration of a national climate emergency and an accompanying national discussion of climate solutions and sacrifices for the benefit of the young and future generations.
  2. A renewable energy smart supergrid to enable renewable energy to replace 24/7 fossil fuel electricity generation and tap into a wide variety of energy sources from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
  3. Electric roadways and electric vehicle charging infrastructure to enable our vehicles to use renewable energy to move about
  4. A continental high-speed rail and maglev rail system to enable an emissions-free long-distance travel across North America
  5. Retrofitting existing buildings and building new buildings that require little energy input to remain comfortable in heat and cold
  6. Creating an electric-bus, electric-rail and safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in urban and suburban areas to create mobility options beyond the personal (electric) vehicle, reduce congestion and increase overall health.
  7. Creating an agricultural and forestry system that pulls more carbon out of the air while providing nourishing foods and useful sustainable materials for a variety of uses.
  8. A Job Guarantee that enables all Americans to work in the transition to a sustainable energy economy or in supplying necessary services during that transition
  9. Shape markets and business decisions by a stable carbon tax starting at $80 per metric tonne and rising $10/year

We as Democrats believe that we will build on our tradition of working together to help ensure that our children and grandchildren will enjoy the same or better prospects that we have enjoyed.  That starts now with ensuring that the natural basis of our wealth is not destroyed by our current dependence on fossil fuels.  

Hoexter then turns to the specific planks.  Most interesting is the plank on environmental justice.

Then this section about fossil fuel leases on public lands:

The fossil fuel banning language starts off bold:

“We oppose drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast”

But then loses conviction in the next phrase:

“…and believe we need to reform fossil fuel leasing on public lands.”

Hoexter then recommends nine edits of the text of this section, starting with:

1. Declaration of a Climate Emergency. While there is the potential for abuse of an emergency declaration, there is no substitute for recognizing that climate action is not a patch on our existing energy-related social arrangements but a thoroughgoing effort to eliminate excess greenhouse gas emissions rapidly.  Climate action is the paramount priority of government and of the American public. Political rights must be maintained, in part because that is the foundation of the American Republic, but also because the effort to stabilize the climate must fully harness the creativity and good will of the public throughout.

And every single candidate campaigning as a Democrat must be supporting this direction and using consistent messages of support in their campaigns.

Democrats must not just squeak by in winning, they must win, be able to govern, and be able to deliver some pretty tall orders that have the effect of actually making America great again by hitting stride in its self-transformative tradition.

It is worth reading Hoexter’s entire argument.

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