Andrew Sullivan, the conservative heretic, sizes up the candidacies of the two GOP front-runners:
One launched his campaign in a revival meeting calling for God to solve our economic problems (having previously led mass prayers for the end of the Texas drought); the other emerges entirely out of Dominionist theology and built her entire career in the Christianist world of home-schooling, and anti-gay demonization. One reason Mitt Romney is not a shoo-in? Sectarianism, and his own previous deviations from binding orthodoxy. And it is this fundamentalist mindset – in which nothing doctrinal can be questioned, and the real world must be bent to the shape of a rigid theo-ideology – that defines these two candidates.
This is what the GOP has become, adds Sullivan:
a religious movement clothed in anti-government radicalism. It has nothing to do with the conservative temperament, conservative political thought or conservative ideas. It is hostile to most existing institutions, especially government, contemptuous of the courts, and seized of an ideology as rigid as any far-left liberalism, as utopian as any wide-eyed socialist, as fanatical as anything the left spawned in the 1960s.
And it has hijacked an entire political party; and recently held to ransom an entire country. I knew it would get worse before it gets better. But this bad?
There is an upside for Obama and Democrats, of course. If either Bachmann or Perry goes on to become the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Independents will run in terror from them.
Several weeks ago, after Tim DeChristopher received a two-year jail sentence for climate monkey wrenching, the outrage in various quarters was palpable. Some, like Jeff Goodell at Rolling Stone, saw a potentially historic moment in the making:
For climate activists, this is a Rosa Parks moment. Or should be.
In other words, the jailing of DeChristopher should be a similar kind of epic spark, one that would launch a movement of protesters rallying to the climate change cause.
But equating the DeChistropher episode with a seminal event in the Civil Rights movement is problematic, because as sociologist David Meyer noted yesterday in The Washington Post, “anger doesn’t make a movement “” organizers do.” Meyer’s essay is not about climate activism, but he provides an instructive history lesson for budding climate activists:
Social movements are products of focused organization. Even the icons of activism in American history wielded influence through larger groups. Rosa Parks wasn’t just a tired seamstress in 1955, when she refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Ala. She was a longtime organizer who served as chapter secretary of the local NAACP, which organized a bus boycott and a lawsuit in response to her action. Earlier that year, she had attended a workshop on nonviolent action at a labor center, the Highlander Institute, where she read about Gandhi and the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision striking down segregation in public schools. All of the specific actions weren’t choreographed, but activists had spent years building the infrastructure and cultivating the ideas that made the bus boycott possible.
As best as I can tell, climate activism remains a disorganized amalgam of national and local groups. Ironically, there seems to be a bigger grassroots uprising against one of the highly touted solutions to climate change, if Robert Bryce is correct when he asserts that
the backlash against industrial wind is real, it’s global, and it’s growing. The U.S. has about 170 anti-wind groups.
If the climate movement in the U.S could claim it had 170 separate chapters, that would be a notable sign that it too is growing. Absent that, what will it take for the climate cause to catch on? A certain famous climate activist, in a speech several months ago, laid out the challenge, in terms that evoked the kinds of sacrifices made during the Civil Rights era:
Where is the point when our movement is going to say that stopping this injustice is more important than my career plans, is more important than my comfort and convenience?
I’m sure we’ll know when the climate movement arrives at that point.