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A Response to Paul Krugman

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The Sierra Club, unlike Paul Krugman, writing in the Times today, does not believe that it is naïve to reward leadership. Nor do we think that all politics comes down to whether you have a D or an R after your name on the ballot. Senator Lincoln Chafee earned our endorsement for his courage in standing up to the bullies in the Republican leadership, for transcending the polarizing sound-and-light show that passes for politics these days, and for hewing true to his core beliefs. Championing the protection of the legacy we leave our children cannot remain a partisan issue -- we are all sweltering under the same sun this summer.

The value of the Sierra Club's endorsement -- to environmentally concerned independents, Republicans, and Democrats alike -- is that it tells voters where a candidate stands on values they cherish. If a voter wants to know who the Democrat is in a race, they don't need the Sierra Club to tell them. Our job is to reward conviction, applaud leadership, and promote progress made in cleaning up the air and water and in preserving our wild lands and wildlife -- no matter which side of the aisle we find it on.

Indeed, in political races all over the country where the Sierra Club happens to be endorsing Democrats who share Lincoln Chafee's values on the environment, right-wing campaign managers have tried to blunt the power of our message by saying that we are simply "a knee-jerk arm of the Democratic party." Paul Krugman, ironically, would like us to make the jobs of these people easier.

And to set the record straight -- because of the committee seats he holds and the influence that he wields as a member of the Republican majority -- Senator Chafee has been extremely effective in stopping President Bush's polluting "Clear Skies" plan and in blocking efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act.

At the Sierra Club, we value performance above party affiliation. We stand up for the people who have stood up for us and for the environment. And we are proud to stand with, and behind, Senator Chafee.