Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Climate Change – A Divider, Not a Uniter

The very moment President Obama is declaring that global warming has existential importance to the
planet, Colorado’s Democratic leaders are trying to say “yes, we agree, Mr. President, but we need natural gas today for the transition.” It is an unpersuasive position for many anti-hydrocarbon Democrats who intended on signing petitions to put a fracking ban (called “local control”) on the ballot.

In an era of increased nationalization of politics, the Colorado Democratic Party has benefitted from a decade of mostly friendly waves from Washington. Starting in 2006, as Nancy Pelosi was becoming Speaker and Bill Ritter was becoming governor, to the extraordinary 2008 election when Obama swept Colorado and Democrats added a senator and a congressperson, and continuing in 2012, which brought another Obama surge that helped the delegation take control of both legislative Houses with large majorities. Of course, there have been tough years. The party survived the backlash in 2010 and hopes to do the same this year, 2014.

One special problem for Colorado Democrats in 2014 is fracking and climate change. While the party establishment holds most of the proper litmus test positions on climate change, they do not back a ban of fracking. But, grassroot Democrats don’t agree, and a ballot battle on the issue this November is likely to cost the incumbents votes. It will also show the party in disarray with expensive campaigns of battling messages, illuminating the first crack in the party since it came to rule Colorado a decade ago.

So, Obama’s heightened interest in climate change, which may help Democrats in some parts of the country, just highlights the lack of unity among Colorado Democrats.

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