Joe Biden’s “Middle Ground” on Climate Change

Following up the last post — Reuters is reporting that Joe Biden is working out his climate change plan. It involves the words “middle ground.”

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump, according to two sources, carving out a middle ground approach that will likely face heavy resistance from green activists.

In other words, Biden is crafting his policy around political appeal. Paul Waldman:

It’s probably too early to criticize this vague set of ideas until we see exactly what it entails. But there’s already cause for concern: the people who have been authorized to speak to the press about this are framing it explicitly as something Biden “hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump.”

We’re not naive here. Of course candidates are going to consider how the policies they propose will be received by voters. But can you at least pretend that you first decided what the best policy would be, and only afterward set about determining the most effective way to sell it to the electorate?

Biden’s people are just coming out and saying that he has an existing election strategy — hold Democratic voters and poach conservative blue-collar white voters from Trump — and they’re fashioning his climate plan so it slots into that strategy.

First, Dems, you aren’t going to “poach” voters from Trump. Any voter who isn’t already disgusted with Trump isn’t poachable. Forget those votes. But take heart; a substantial majority of respondents in a recent poll said they won’t vote for Trump. The challenge, then, is not to poach voters from Trump but to, first, rally the base. Including the lefty-progressive base. Second, persuade disaffected voters who already don’t like Trump that it’s worth getting to the polls to vote for you. Please stop with the safe wishy-washiness that makes people wonder why they bother to vote.

Waldman writes, “it’s pretty clear that Biden suffers from a common Democratic malady, one that produces a constant fear that taking policy positions they perceive to be too liberal will produce electoral disaster.” Yeah, that’s my impression of him, too.

Back to Reuters:

The backbone of the policy will likely include re-joining the United States with the Paris Climate Agreement and preserving U.S. regulations on emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency that Trump has sought to undo, according to one of the sources, Heather Zichal, who is part of a team advising Biden on climate change. She previously advised President Barack Obama.

The second source, a former energy department official also advising Biden’s campaign who asked not to be named, said the policy could also be supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology, which limit emissions from coal plants and other industrial facilities.

A site called Sludge with which I am not familiar says that the above-mentioned Heather Zichal was once on the board of a Texas-based liquified natural gas company. That doesn’t necessarily make her a bad person, but it doesn’t look good.

Bernie Sanders has already pounced.

And see Naomi Klein —

That was my reaction to the “middle ground” headline before I’d read the article. And it’s still my reaction, although if actual climate scientists say Biden’s plan is reasonable, I will listent to them. I am skeptical, though.

11 thoughts on “Joe Biden’s “Middle Ground” on Climate Change

  1. I really don't think it's necessary to rally the base. The base is already rallied against Trump. Where else are you going to turn to? I'd vote for Biden if the only other choice were Trump.

    While his policies may be couched in terms of appealing to or poaching blue collar voters, that doesn't quite pass the smell test. I suspect Biden's real concern is to placate Wall Street and the energy companies.

    Green ideas have been touted enough by now, that a portion of blue collar voters I'm sure have heard of them and sense the jobs potential. Any blue collar worker under a certain age knows that coal is not coming back.

    That Biden doesn't speak to this 1) underscores my suspicion that it's really about placating the vested interests, or 2) my God this man really is out of date. Or both.

  2. "Joe Biden is crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump"

    This really means "Joe Biden is crafting a climate change policy that won't get in the way of oil and gas company bundlers and will appeal to the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump…"

    I was prepared to give Biden a chance but already he's demonstrated he's planning to repeat Clinton's losing strategy, "middle ground," corporate corruption baggage and all.

    Trying to win over voters 2016 has shown they'll never vote for you while telling your base to essentially hush is a disastrous strategy.  I really don't get it.  What makes them think it'll work this time?  

  3. I'm pretty sure that "middle ground" will be the theme of all of Biden's policy positions. Been there, done that.

  4. Well I know one anchor point on climate change.  It is the prevalent view of the right wing which as best as I can label it is a total pre-frontal political lobotomy on the issue.  So does that make middle ground a partial pre-frontal political lobotomy on the issue?  

    So Biden  is now labeled as the front runner.  Well the way I read the poll numbers the vast majority of Democrats 63%, at present, would prefer someone other than Biden.  Since many have little name recognition and less policy exposure I will remain with the majority at this time.  

    Maureen Dowd in her May 5th column took a big swat at Joe.  It is on a different issue but points to half heartedness going way back.  

    " I first saw this dynamic during the scalding week of the Thomas-Hill hearings. It was infuriating to watch the Republicans play to win as the Democrats halfheartedly tried to get at the truth.

    Now that Joe Biden is running for president in a post-#MeToo era, he says he always believed Anita Hill. But as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he acted more like a Republican collaborator. He shut down the hearing without calling the three women who worked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with Thomas, women who were ready to puncture the phony image of a prim and proper boss."

    I think we passed the time for half-heartedness on climate change and many other issues quite a few years ago but half is much more heart than what we have now.  

  5. Apologies to whomever this is obvious, but the "centrist" conventional wisdom in the Democratic party was formalized and aggressively promoted at a point:

    The Wiki articles have problems, but still cover the essentials. It's a good idea to also follow the "third way" link.

    In practice, these ideas depressed enthusiasm for liberal causes. Worse, they depressed democratic participation and didn't represent true centrism. Bill Clinton simply chose popular items from both the left and right and implemented those he could, pretending that they represented "the center" in the aggregate. They included increasing unfairness by the IRS, further damaging social welfare programs, banking deregulation, and expanding trade in a way that didn't address the consequences for American workers. On the other hand he made no headway on health care. Hillary and Biden have their own baggage from that period.

    Phony centrism has been a dead end for Democrats, especially because they're the party that's supposed to more represent democracy. Democratic voters are not in the mood for another dead ender. It's not that every Democratic or leftist idea is good, but not discussing them at all for the supposed good of a political party is undemocratic.


  6. The middle of the road.

    You know what's in the middle of the road?


    And that's where "Good Ol" Joe's campaign belongs. 

  7. A middle ground on climate change? So which half of the world would Biden save? The half with the people or the half with the corporations?


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