October 06, 2014

Shifting Strategies: Environmental groups look at ways to increase appeal

Recently, I ran across a piece on the National Journal that looked at a shifting strategy among "green" groups.

They've begun shifting the conversation to include marriage equality and other key issues in the public consciousness, which candidates supporting more environmentally friendly policies tend to align with nicely.

Jason Plautz and Clare Foran wrote:

The billboards are fresh evidence of a shift in strategy that's playing out among environmental heavyweights. As their checkbooks expand and they seek more political influence, major green groups are no longer limiting themselves to talking about a candidate's environmental record. Now, everything is on the table. 
It's not typical fare for environmentalists, whose bread and butter has long been global warming and clean air. What's driving the new focus? Strategists say it's a way for the groups to increase their efficacy, complementing their climate push with messaging that will resonate with a broader swath of the electorate.

It's a way to tie in environmentalism with a wide range of subjects that Republicans appear out of touch on, the piece says, and I think it's a stroke of brilliance.
There's a plethora of polling data that shows that Republicans are out of touch with the American public on a wide variety of subjects, while at the same time, there's a lot of distrust for environmentalism in general and for adjustments made to combat climate change in particular.

By linking this issue to other issues, the green movement has a very simple reasoning:

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in January found that 80 percent of respondents ranked efforts to bolster the nation's economy as the top policy priority. Only 29 percent of those polled cited action to address global warming as a pressing issue.

So they are reacting to the fact that environmentalism, in and of itself, does not move people towards the polls--but issues like marriage equality do.

 At the same time, I truly hope that this creates a general shift in public consciousness. We only have one planet, and we seem desperate to destroy it. While I think we can all agree on the importance of economic growth, such growth is pointless long-term if we don't safeguard this pale blue dot that we are growing on.

I think this comes at an opportune time, which Plautz & Foran also noted:

"Politicians are now being attacked by saying they're in the pockets of the Koch brothers," said Hoffman. "And on the right they'll say that Steyer and [George Soros] and those crazy lefties are trying to take over the political process. There's a lot of distaste for big money." 
Lehane compared the messaging on donations to "tobacco-ization," raising the question about whether a candidate can be trusted if they've taken money from polluters in the way that past candidates were pilloried for taking funds from cigarette companies. 
"Linking a polluter message to a Republican candidate ... that is explicitly a bullseye climate message," Lehane said. "Broadly speaking there are different messages that work really effectively … and are part and parcel."

Nothing makes us question a politician as much as where his or her money comes from. Leveraging such ties has been successful in the past.

While I hope that this helps on many fronts, I truly wish to see a shift towards a more rational, reasonable, scientific mindset for the American public at large. Maybe that is too much to hope for, but I certainly hope not. 

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