Month 10, Day 3: I’m Back From DC, and Boy Are My Arms Tired

Which is why I wrote this letter the night of Thursday, September 30.

Dear President Obama,

The mid-term elections will be held in a month. Thanks to the terrifying incompetence of the Republicans, it seems relatively likely that Democrats will hold the Senate. I write begging you to use all the eloquence of which you are capable to back filibuster reform when the next session of Congress opens.

While the abuse of the filibuster by the opposition party is by now commonly recognized, it has had particularly tragic and telling effects on the fate of climate legislation. Even the meticulously crafted capitulations to the oil and coal industries which were included in the Kerry-Lieberman bill were not enough to motivate Republicans to vote for cloture.

The slow-motion disaster that is global climate change may not have an impact on the notoriously short attention span of an American citizen, but that doesn’t mean it can be safely ignored. Rather, global heating is nevertheless the most significant existential threat humanity has ever faced. While profoundly inadequate, Kerry-Lieberman was at least a start on addressing the problem. Instead, because of the malignant misuse of the filibuster, it was rendered irrelevant.

I hear that we may get a Renewable Energy Standard in the lame-duck session. Well, that’s something, even if it is like trying to put out a forest fire with a squirt gun. What we (America and humanity as a whole) really need is forceful environmental legislation that recognizes the scientific reality of climate change. What we’ll get is something different, I know. But at the very least we need a place to start. Please advocate to get climate legislation back on the Senate floor, and please advocate ending the abuse of the filibuster.

And (as a lifelong member of the Democratic “base”) I beg you: can you try and talk sense into the members of your party who seem determined to ensure that a Democratic majority will never again occur in our lifetimes? It’s very demoralizing.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

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