Repower America Cranks Up the Volume
By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
If you heeded the call from Al Gore and Repower America to contact your senators during the 72 hours March 2-4, you’ll be glad to know that more than 200,000 phone calls were made in that time.
This week’s conference call, on Monday, March 15, was attended by more than 10,000 people, who were phoned by Repower America and plugged into the call. My phone never rang, so I missed the whole thing. I’m telling myself they ran out of lines before they got to the Ws. Next time I think I’ll sign up with my middle name.
If you want to hear what Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and former Vice President Al Gore said, click here. I’ll paraphrase a bit of it here.
Sherrod Brown reported on a meeting he had recently with 13 other senators — there were 14 in all, 8 Democrats and 6 Republicans. For the first time, he said, he felt that the Senate is going to pass a climate change bill. The House has already passed its version.
There is a growing consensus, Brown said, that climate change is real, and that humankind has had a role in contributing to it. “This is one of the great moral issues of our generation,” Brown said. He added that once you can get political leaders to acknowledge that, you’re on your way to passing legislation.
Gore began by citing three concurrent crises: climate, economic, and national security which, he said, have led us to commit troops to the part of the world where there is the largest concentration of recoverable oil. (He was open in sharing his belief that oil played a major role in the decision to go into Iraq.)
There’s also a political crisis, Gore said, with government “not working very well. Special interests and their allies in Congress have a lot more power, and they are fighting every day to try to stop progress. It’s time for a clean energy revolution. It’s time to stand up and tell our elected officials that we want them to lead.”
Gore said a bipartisan effort in the Senate has “gathered some steam. The White House is fully committed and [Senate majority leader] Harry Reid is fully committed to passing a bill.”
In the next couple of weeks, Gore added, clean power activists will be asked to call their senators again. “Every single effort makes a difference, and now is the time to show how strong our movement is and how strongly we feel.”
Of course it was a pep rally. Of course we’ve already heard everything that was said on the call. And of course it’s up to us to push, and push, and push some more to make our legislators behave responsibly.
Until last January I didn’t have to bother my senators about stuff like this. I live in Massachusetts. Now Teddy Kennedy is gone, replaced by a somewhat-unknown quantity named Scott Brown. So far in the first couple of months, he’s denied knowing anything about the Tea Party Movement — although it’s common knowledge that he courted the teabaggers while he was running in the special election that sent him to Washington. He’s also voted twice with the Democrats.
Response to my call to his office March 3 was appropriately noncommittal. If John Kerry, Massachusetts’ senior senator, weren’t already a sponsor of climate change legislation, his staff would be noncommittal, too.
So I’m not predicting how Scott Brown will vote. When the bipartisan bill Kerry and others are working on has been filed and I have a title and bill number to refer to, I’ll call Brown’s office again. I’m keeping my mind open. I’m a Democrat, but there have been times in Massachusetts elections when I’ve voted for more Republicans than Democrats. In order to get elected here, Republicans have to be a bit different than the ones we see elsewhere.
A bit of advice: If you’re thinking of writing instead of calling, here’s an important piece of information. All mail going to government offices is fumigated against anthrax — nine years after the 2001 anthrax scare, and long after the perpetrator has been found and prosecuted. Nobody, it seems, will take responsibility for saying, “OK, we don’t need to do that any more.”
So it takes about three months for a letter or even postcard you mail to get to your intended recipient. We don’t have that kind of time. If you want to write, that’s fine. But fax the letter, don’t mail it. The Senate web site will lead you to your senators and their phone and fax numbers.