Congress Has Progressed from Bringing Nothing to a Vote to Taking Meaningless Votes

This item was distributed by The Hill several days ago, on January 21:

NOT A LOAD OF A BALONEY: Senators voted 98-1 that “climate change is real and not a hoax.”

I repeat “not a hoax!” The bipartisan vote caught Democrats off guard as many thought a majority of Republicans would vote against the amendment, which will now be attached to underlying legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. 

It was even more stunning when the Senate’s loudest skeptic of climate change, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he wanted to co-sponsor the bill with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) — the measure’s lead author.  

In response to the vote Whitehouse said in a statement: “This resolution marks a historic shift for many of my Republican colleagues. While a number of Republicans have long acknowledged that climatechange is real, including Senator Graham who spoke once again today, many others either denied the science or refused to discuss it. I was glad to see almost every Republican, including Senator Inhofe, acknowledge the reality of climate change today, and I hope this means we can move on to discussing not just whether climate change is real, but what we should do about it.”

However, the Senate also voted down a measure that climate change is real and that humans “significantly” contribute to it. 

 

Several things are worth commenting on here.

First, this ostensibly astounding exhibition of bi-partisanship is nothing but a word game. The kicker is the last sentence—that there was no unanimity on whether humans cause or “’significantly’ contribute” to climate change. So, this is the environmental equivalent of the GOP’s new concern about income inequality, stagnated middle-class incomes, and increased poverty rates: that is, it looks as if the Far Right is now saying something very different, but they are actually just framing the same time-worn positions in language that sounds Progressive but does not move anyone in the GOP even a smidgen toward a more Progressive position.

Second, there is no word on whether the Republicans in the House are willing to engage in even this sort of very contrived stunt.

Third, the media is so desperate to be relevant that it is willing to report this exercise in duplicitous messaging as a significant political development.

Lastly, the whole idea that a political body is voting on whether something scientific does or does not exist is like something out of one of Jonathan Swift’s satires. I have the very uneasy feeling that if both the Senate and the house were to vote that climate change does not exist, some Congressmen and Senators might believe that they had, in fact, prevented or pre-empted climate change. I’m fairly certain, for instance, that Louie Gohmert, Steve Stockman, and Steve King would be very willing not just to believe it but to declare it and to declare it very publicly and very loudly.

In the realm of foreign policy, the Far Right is very fond of comparing anything short of bellicose militarism to the appeasement of Hitler that set the stage for the Nazi invasion of Poland and the beginning of the Second World War. Well, these sorts of votes on climate change have no more meaning or connection to reality than that piece of paper that Neville Chamberlain waved in the front of the cameras on his return to Great Britain, while declaring that it guaranteed peace “in our time.” To extend the analogy further, these sorts of votes have no more meaning or connection to reality than the hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper—propaganda messages–that Allied airmen dropped, instead of bombs, over the German lines during the “Phony War” in the winter of 1939-1940. In May and June, France fell to the blitzkrieg in six weeks.

To reach back even further for an even more timeworn but actually very apt historical analogy, this is the equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns.

Science Denial []

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