Wednesday, March 19, 2014

PCCC Endorses Brian Schatz


This morning, Brian Schatz added another grassroots progressive group to his growing list of endorsers. The PCCC came out strongly in favor of Schatz's campaign after their local members voted 4 to 1 in favor of the organization endorsing Brian over New Dem Colleen Hanabusa. They cited Social Security as the "defining issue" in the race and in their decision. Hanabusa, one of the most corrupt politicians in Hawaii, has adamantly refused to to rule out cutting Social Security benefits. She did not join many of her House colleagues who signed the Grayson-Takano letter, which promises "we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits." Like most Republicans and all the Wall Street-owned New Dems, she voted to support of the Simpson-Bowles Austerity plan that would cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. Hanabusa also refuses to support legislation introduced in the House to expand Social Security benefits.

Hanabusa, whose campaign is being run by the Beltway racket that has taken over EMILY's List, has already been attacking the PCCC. In a letter to Hanabusa supporters from a former Time Warner lobbyist, Peter Boylan, they tried diverting attention away from Hanabusa's corrupt record by calling the PCCC "another Mainland special interest group… Adam Green's Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is spreading misinformation on behalf of our opponent. They sent an email to Hawaii describing their attack plan while separately requesting housing for their operatives. Since the moment Neil Abercrombie promoted his deputy, Brian Schatz, Washington, D.C. insiders have been lining up behind him to tell Hawaii families who to vote for."

What he was whining about when he complained about "D.C. insiders" wasn't EMILY's List of course, but the dozens of Senator Schatz's congressional colleagues who have been working with him and who have come to admire his courageous progressive ethics, especially in contrast to Hanabusa's reputation for craven corruption. Among the U.S. Senators-- or in Hanabusa's words, "D.C. insiders"-- backing Brian Schatz are Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Harry Reid (D-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (R-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Begich (D-AK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and a dozen others. So far 38 senators have contributed to his reelection campaign. Hanabusa has called every single woman in the Senate-- the "D.C. insiders"-- begging for support and she was turned down by every one of them, not just the progressives, but even by the ones from her own conservative branch of the party.

Schatz's leadership on the environment and climate change are two of the reasons so many of his colleagues are impressed enough to take such a strong stand in his favor. Last week he led the 15 hour-long Climate Change all-nighter in the Senate. Schatz: "One of the major objectives was to engage the American public, and we did that. We need more passionate enthusiasm and engagement from the public."
With this strategy, Democrats are mimicking the activism-oriented approach of their conservative Republican colleagues. When the House Republicans vote for the thousandth time to repeal Obamacare, they aren’t accomplishing anything tangible, but they are generating press coverage and exciting their base.

“It’s the beginning of this Senate taking on the issue of climate change more prominently,” said Schatz. He noted that the new Senate Climate Change Task Force, which supported the all-night talkathon, is planning a series of events for the coming months.

The senators’ approach was made clear by their speeches Monday night: homing in on the effects of climate change in their states. Their reasoning is obvious, and obviously correct: Americans, like it or not, are a selfish people. They mostly don’t care much about climate change now. They aren’t going to start caring because they learn of another species dying or another group of Pacific islanders losing their homes. They will care when they believe their jobs, their homes, their security, or maybe just their access to cheap food is in danger.

“We had 31 senators talking about how climate change is affecting their home states economically,” says Schatz. “This is a question of economic survival. It’s something the Department of Defense takes seriously. The only people not taking it seriously are the House of Representatives.”

And so the challenge is to turn climate change into an issue of economic and national security, thus elevating it to the stature of two things most American voters actually do care about.

And if most American voters can be convinced to care, congressional Republicans might have to start caring too. Republicans are obstinate about climate change because their supporters are. Back in 2008, the Republican nominee for president, John McCain, supported reducing CO2 emissions through a cap-and-trade program, as did many other Republicans with national ambitions. All reversed themselves in 2009, as their base grew ferociously opposed to anything President Obama supported, no matter how moderate or commonsensical the actual policy was. It strains credulity to think that all these educated people have actually stopped personally believing in anthropogenic climate change as evidence of its existence has only grown. They are cowards and opportunists, and they will do whatever will help them win the next election.

There’s still a long way to go before Republicans will believe it’s in their political interest to act against climate change. But the climate talkathon, which generated a lot of headlines, was at least an attempt to start.
Blue America has only endorsed two incumbent senators this year. You can contribute directly to Brian's campaign here.

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