Environment

The Margin of Victory for Climate Legislation

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorApr 21, 2011 8:45 PM

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So it's been interesting to read Matthew Nisbet's Powershift report alongside the Spring issue of Sociological Quarterly, which contains a series of themed essays in a special section called, "Symposium on the Politics of Climate Change." I'll be discussing one of the pieces at length in a post that will go up tomorrow at the Climate Central blog. Meanwhile, related to all the agitation stirred up by Nisbet's report, I want to flag an excerpt in the Sociological Quarterly, from a commentary by Ohio State sociologist J. Craig Jenkins:

Many pieces of major "watershed" legislation have often incubated on the margins of the governmental policy agenda for many years before a crisis created opportunities for legislation. In most cases, these bills were part of a reform period in which a strong center/left governing coalition was able to override obstacles to major legislation. The abolition of slavery and radical reconstruction in and immediately after the Civil War, the "Second New Deal" in the mid-1930, and the Civil Rights Acts and "Great Society" legislation in the 1960s all fit this pattern. The strong Democratic margin in the 211th Congress was enough to secure the House passage of the Waxman-Markey Bill but the legislation died in the Senate, which had already voted three times in the past decade against global warming. Until a comparable governmental margin again occurs, it seems unlikely that the issue will again become the subject of legislation. Meanwhile, its proponents will have to continue to press their cause through the mass media, in the arena of public opinion, in elections and before Congress and the White House.

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