New York Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the shock and dismay of progressives at the losses suffered in the mid-term elections in the best possible way: by telling them to stiffen their backbones. I couldn't agree more. Democrats have bent over backwards to appear "moderate" or mainstream, weakening what could be truly progressive positions and in some cases completely abandoning their morality (and their base) altogether. The result has been low enthusiasm, low turnout and democratic bloodletting.
Mayor de Blasio is urging democrats to have a sincere, profound and truly progressive vision for the future, based on guts, values and true passion for people's rights and equality, not to wishy-washy themselves into oblivion. He understands that elections are all about passion -- the party that has it wins. Right now the Tea Party has passion -- never mind that they are the party of crazy; never mind that they lambast science and reason at every turn. They have passion to equal their campaign cash and they are winning.
So it was such a breath of fresh air when I heard Mayor de Blasio speak last week on Chris Hayes' show about a renewal of progressive values and how progressives have to step up to the plate. The Mayor inspired me and others to ask him to add climate change to his own progressive agenda by speaking out against the Keystone XL pipeline. Any truly progressive push must reject dirty energy, must begin to develop a comprehensive plan for New York City that is both a defense against climate change while at the same time innovating and encouraging a truly world-class renewable energy development strategy.
So please Mr. Mayor, take some of our inspiration to heart and stand with us to fight Keystone XL, to fight for New York City and to deepen our progressive values as we move into the future. Please endorse the letter below, co-signed by so many wonderful folks and organizations and let's begin to do the work of the future in New York City now!
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
We write to humbly and respectfully request your presence, enthusiasm, oration and advocacy in our protest of the congressional vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Keystone XL pipeline, if approved would bring dirty tar sands oil- dubbed, the dirtiest oil on the planet, to refineries in the USA from Alberta Canada.
We are planning a rally and press conference on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday November 18th at 10am and we would like you to stand with us in opposition to the pipeline. The press conference and rally will feature leading speakers from the environmental movement, notable cultural figures from New York and people on the front lines of the climate change movement. We need you to stand with us, make a speech in favor of protecting New York City from climate change by opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.
As you may know, James Hansen of NASA said that the if Keystone XL pipeline allowed the tar sands to be drained it was " essentially game over" for the planet and Bill McKibben of 350.org calls it the "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet." Protest actions to the Keystone XL pipeline have gathered over 1 million signatures and have moved people to the largest civil disobedience action on the climate in history.
We deeply appreciate your recent writing that progressives need to have a "backbone" and "bold new approach" for the future. Standing up for our environment, against dirty oil, against the Keystone XL pipeline is a central pillar of this bold new progressive vision.
Bloomberg News ranks New York City the 3rd most vulnerable city to economic damage due to climate change. New York city needs to immediately address issues of climate as a top priority in new programs and governance in the future. We are ready to work with your administration and the city to provide key aspects of that bold new vision. We must stand united against the Keystone XL pipeline and move quickly to develop renewable energy programs, and create a sustainable economics for the future.
Our city is so vulnerable to rising tides and swelling storm surge, New York cannot afford any more climate disruption. Game over for climate means game over for New York City. Stand with us, stand up to big oil and stand up for New York City. We need you to help us change the game and push forward this bold new vision.
With great hope, admiration and respect,
Peter and Bethany Yarrow
Jay R. Halfon
Natural Resources Defense Council
350.org NYC chapter
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
Americans Against Fracking
Interfaith Moral Action of Climate (IMAC)