Newsletter - May 2015

Yacht Club Broiler. Speaker – Robbi Ferron speaking about Native American concerns. Please bring non-perishable items for the Food Bank. 
NO RSVP required.

by Jo Fox Burr

Years ago, when working as a Graduate Program Assistant at the UW Jackson School of International Studies, a professor with whom I worked, Dan Waugh, taught me a valuable lesson. He had recently become Chair of a program fraught with disorganization and dissention. In his short tenure as Chair, he had already made a world of difference, particularly to the students. Being unconventional, he usually rode his bike to work wearing shorts with a pink belt. While I doubt he wore this to class, he was not shy about wearing this outfit other places. A few professors thought this unprofessional for a Chair and decided to intervene. We worried this might cause him to resign, but he was unruffled by it. He later told me that when things like that happen, you sit and listen and then do something entirely different. I have found this useful advice in many situations since.

Recently I watched a documentary which reminded me of this sage advice. It was a fascinating look at the creation of Earth Day and subsequent following events. It realistically evaluated what worked, what worked for a while, and what was simply too naïve to ever work. There was the initial Earth Day which drew 20 million people, and included symbolic and literal seed plantings in whimsical ceremonies, but did not include significant plans to symbolically or literally tend them. When revamping their energies, the leaders decided to focus on defeating Congressional Senators and Representatives with particularly bad environmental records. Their first attempts were very successful, resulting in some significant actions, such as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. While this targeting tactic is still useful, the other side has learned how to use their deeper pockets successfully enough to decrease its effectiveness. Jimmy Carter offered hope by doing such things as putting solar panels on the White House. His problem was that he promoted conservation by asking us to make sacrifices. In his re-election bid, he became the doom and gloom candidate while Reagan offered hope and light. When Reagan won, he took the solar panels off, allowed the solar power industry to move to China, and as one environmentalist said, lost the movement 30 years.

The movement did learn from this defeat and gradually came to realize that their main adversaries, the fossil fuel industries and their supporters/dependents, were too wealthy to be defeated through politics alone. So they did what Dan did, and went off in a totally different direction. They turned to technology and focused their efforts on creating cheaper clean energy. Using stimulus funds, Obama’s administration greatly assisted this. To avoid negative push back, much was done under the radar. The result has been both a significant decrease in the cost of clean energy and a surprising increase in its supply. And this has started to threaten the wealth and power of the fossil fuel industry. They are not yet knocked out, but their push for states to pass laws to impede the growth of clean energy is desperately defensive. And citizens are already pushing back on these laws.

Look at the recent election results in Alberta, Canada. Alberta is the heart of Canada’s tar sands oil industry and until recently the major source of its economic boom. Now, as oil prices drop, the high cost of extracting this type of oil makes it less profitable. Canada, and Alberta in particular, are now heading towards a possible recession. The citizens of Alberta may have realized that basing their economy on oil was foolhardy. Who knows for sure, but voters turned out the right-wing Progressive Conservatives (PC), who had had an overwhelming majority in parliament and were prime supporters of the oil industry. In their place, the New Democratic Party headed by Rachel Notley, who Rachel Maddow likens to Bernie Sanders, took over. The PC party didn’t even win enough seats to be the official Opposition.

In the US we wonder why there are so many GOP presidential candidates. Well, there are that many right-wing wealthy donors ready to support their particular flavor of candidate, each thinking money alone will win them the prize. It seems unlikely our side could ever accumulate sufficient funds to match those on the right. If we are going to take Congress back and retain the presidency, we need to follow the lead of the Earth Day movement and my friend Dan and find another way to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t contribute to candidates and causes, but I’ll be supporting those that show me they are undertaking new and different strategies.

Kitsap County Democratic Women
Date: May 27th (Wednesday)
Time: 11:30 am lunch; 12:30 pm mtg
Place: Yacht Club Broiler
Speaker: Robbi Ferron
Topic: Native American Concerns

Kitsap County Dem. Central Com.
Date: May 18th (Monday)
Time: 6:30 pm Desserts; 7:00 pm mtg.
Place: Eagles Nest

23rd Legislative District Democrats
Date: May 19th (Tuesday)
Time: 6:30 p.m. social; 7:00 p.m. mtg.
Place: Poulsbo Library

26th Legislative District Democrats
Date: June 4th (Thursday)
Time: 7-9 pm
Place: Kitsap Rm, Givens Center
1026 Sidney Rd, Pt. Orch.

35th Legislative District Democrats
Date: June 15th (Sunday)
Time: 10 am – 12:30 pm
Place: N. Mason Sch. Adm Bldg
Speaker: Russ Hartman on State
Budget & Taxes

Our annual picnic will be July 18th. More details to follow, but save the date now!

Date: Aug 22nd (Saturday)
Time: 12 pm
Place: Jarstad Park in Gorst

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science [and politics].” - Albert Einstein