The Democratic National Committee voted against holding a debate on climate change. Why?
Is the corrupting influence of the fossil fuel lobby forcing theses decisions? Are they are afraid of turning off moderate voters? Are they worried about people demanding a variety of single-issue debates?
For now, we can relegate the answers to the comment section, because any definitive proof for any of these explanations is lacking.
I was shocked that CNN agreed to host a climate change town hall, given the billions it rakes in via advertising from fossil fuel–related industries. In 2016, media matters reported that “CNN viewers see far more fossil fuel advertising than climate change reporting.” It is uncanny that the instant CNN begins to become a more ethical media organization in regards to climate change the DNC swoops in to stop it.
It is clear the DNC is taking a huge risk by not motivating its base. In previous mid-term elections, as many as 15 million self-described super-environmentalists chose not to vote. In general, it appears the media and the DNC are highly coordinated in limiting debates and town halls to superficial discourse on many of the most important issues. They have 24/7 coverage, but somehow only have time for 30-second answers to extremely complex issues. Political scientists have postulated that this type of shallow coverage is not a mistake but rather is a crucial tool to limit the flow of important information to the public. The technique is referred to as “concision.” Wikipedia states:
“Media critics such as Noam Chomsky contend that this practice, especially on commercial broadcasts with advertising, encourages broadcasters to exclude people and ideas that they judge cannot conform to the time limits of a particular program. This leads to a limited number of “the usual suspects” who will say expected ideas that will not require extensive explanation such as mainstream political ones.”
Editor’s note: While I consider this a possibility, and in general have high regard for Noam Chomsky, I do not see this matter as manipulative or conspiratorial, as I think is presented. I think these media agencies want commenters who can make their points clearly and concisely — an ability anyone looking to persuade others should have. Complex topics can also be explained in a few minutes at a level that is useful and relevant to broad news viewers, while longer documentaries or deep dives are simply a different method of discussing a topic and fit into a different section of the media and information sharing landscape. That said, I do of course agree that climate change deserves much more attention, including an evening of dedicated town halls and/or debates. —Zach
Thankfully, independent media is gobbling up ever-increasing amounts of the public’s attention. One of the largest independent media organizations is The Young Turks (TYT). A “Young Turk” is generally defined as “a young person eager for radical change to the established order.” The Young Turks is a progressive network and has very clearly supported Bernie Sanders. It began on satellite radio near the turn of the millennium and is on a number of platforms. On YouTube alone, it has over 4.4 million subscribers. Additionally, The Young Turks and its audience helped to found the Justice Democrats, which brought us the Campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), among others. It was able to raise millions of dollars to fund a number of progressive candidates to primary what they referred to as “corporate Democrats.”
Now, in response to its audience, The Young Turks is trying to organize a climate change debate. Unfortunately, the DNC created a draconian rule that effectively bars Democratic candidates from participating in unsanctioned debates. If a candidate participates in an unsanctioned debate, they will be barred entry to the DNC-sanctioned debates. The field of more than 20 Democratic candidates is being continually narrowed down between each successive sanctioned debate. While these candidates cannot participate in the upcoming sanctioned debates, they are still on the ballot. Editor’s note: Of course, if several major candidates participated in an unsanctioned climate debate, I have a hard time believing the DNC would follow through and exclude them from future debates.
The Young Turks is confident many of these barred candidates will participate in the unsanctioned climate change debate, and they will easily raise at least $100,000 to fund the live debate.
The Young Turks is clear that the debate will only occur if enough candidates participate. If not enough candidates participate, the money will go to another effort. In such a case, The Young Turks will run a poll on how to spend the donations. There is an outside chance a competitive candidate would risk the wrath of the DNC and participate in the unsanctioned debate. That would create an epic showdown.
The DNC in coordination with corporate media has created numerous dilemmas for the grassroots, particularly for the environmental movement. So, please be respectful in the comments, and humbly realize it’s okay to have a diversity of tactics. Editor’s note: I would also emphasize that, whether or not you like the rules the DNC has set up, which it thinks are good, and whether or not you love the eventual Democratic nominees for president and vice president, focus on the core, fundamental differences in policy that will result from anything on the Democratic side versus another 4 years of Trump and McConnell. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. That’s how we get trickle-down economics and deregulation again and again from Republicans in power. —Zach
Most importantly, let us not forget the immense power we have to affect the future climate outside of politics. For example, a little more than 6 million early adopters have purchased an electric vehicle, which is the primary reason energy storage costs have fallen roughly 90% in recent history. To see the cause and effect of early adopters, refer back to this previous CleanTechnica article. Individual, local, state, and global environmental action have picked up where federal governments have failed. Many years ago, I became an avid CleanTechnica reader to escape politics, which was frequently a cause of depression, so if this article has boiled your blood, then I encourage you to find some way to take action on climate change. No effort is too small considering the pace of innovation in clean technology.
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