In Pittsburgh, the Netroots Strategize

by Ben Somberg

August 15, 2009

At Netroots Nation, the annual liberal blogger conference, organizations, candidates, and of course bloggers get together to talk. It's informal. North Carolina's Rep. Brad Miller, among several electeds at the conference, was sporting jeans by Friday.

The focus among the environmental folks, not surprisingly, is climate change. The enviros here have qualms with the Waxman-Markey bill, but most are in the mindset of trying to get a Senate bill passed.

Speaking on a panel Friday, Rep. Jay Inslee, of Washington, expressed some optimism. He said that he, along with fellow Energy and Commerce Committee members Markey and Boucher, had met with a group of 14 "moderate" Senators, and: "I've never seen this happen before ... There were members of the U.S. Senate actually listening to members of the U.S. House." He said these Senators were, as the saying goes, looking for ways to get to "yes." Rep. Inslee implored attendees to help build the political space for senators to feel comfortable saying "yes."

On the same panel, Adam Siegel lamented how the political dialogue is still about the "costs" of addressing climate change; rarely is the discussion of the savings of addressing climate change, which are, of course, far greater. He criticized Democrats and others who had adopted the talking point that climate change legislation would "cost only a postage stamp per day" for each person, because that implied that there was a net cost.

The enviros here are looking for ways to be effective -- in the face of an opposition onslaught. On Thursday, the news broke (courtesy of Greenpeace) that the American Petroleum Institute would be sponsoring rallies against the climate bill. And when I picked up the local conservative newspaper today to see what they were up to, I ran smack into a friendly Q&A with Marc Morano. Oy.

So what can the enviros of the netroots do? There were perhaps more questions than answers. One initiative is on DailyKos, where a group of users are setting up an "adopt a senator" system, in which individual bloggers will track news about key senators on the climate change bill. And there's already talk about how to counter API's rallies, and document their astroturfy-ness.

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