Netroots Nation: Winning on Climate by Making Fun of People

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 22 2013 2:13 PM

Netroots Nation: Winning on Climate by Making Fun of People

SAN JOSE—"These people have to be ridiculed," said Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz. "They have to be run out of town rhetorically."

The freshman senator, appointed upon the death of Hawaii's statesman Dan Inouye, was talking about skeptics of climate change. The issue earned a Saturday morning panel at Netroots Nation, anchored by Rep. Henry Waxman, who had moved the 2009 cap and trade bill through the Democratic House only to 1) watch it whimper and die in the Senate and 2) watch many Democrats who'd backed it get attacked as "energy taxers" and lose.

Waxman and Schatz agreed that climate change legislation was a dead letter in the current Congress, because Republicans didn't fear it. How to change that? Ridicule. "When you make fun of people—here's an example," said Waxman. "In Indiana last year, a conservative candidate lost the Senate race because he said something stupid about rape." If denying climate change becomes as dangerous to talk about as abortion, voila, they can start tripping up the other side.

Advertisement

They needed to try, because nothing else worked. It was good, said Waxman, that President Obama was giving a climate change speech next week (Tuesday) and announcing more executive actions. "He's not running for re-election," said Waxman, which meant that the president should wield more power. Simple public pressure hadn't been consistent enough to move people. "I appealed to Stephen Chu, who is very credible—he has a Nobel PrizeSen. Brian Schatzand asked him for support." The public support didn't come.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.