NOTE: The following is an e-mail letter I just sent to Florida's U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in response to reiterated pleas for campaign contributions, signed in Rep. Grayson's name. Rep. Grayson's solicitation letters stress the urgent need to overcome the Koch brothers' heavy (and early) attack ad spending to unseat him--a fact that does speak well for Rep. Grayson, whose progressive credentials, to my best knowledge, are as solid as any Democrat's.
But Alan Grayson's urgent pleas for funding to fight back against the Kochs offer a unique opportunity to those of us who feel an even more urgent need to fight the villainous Kochs' most criminal initiative: the Keystone XL pipeline. I hope that readers deeply concerned to squelch the pipeline will reply to Democrats seeking donations--especially ones urgently doing so--in the vein I've responded to Rep. Grayson here. Of course, I strongly encourage you simply to write them in the same spirit.
(Disclosure: As I live in Georgia, not Florida, Alan Grayson is--unfortunately--not my U.S. Representative. But apparently word has reached him that I'm a politically active progressive interested in the fate of progressives in Congress. It's precisely because Rep. Grayson, like Elizabeth Warren, is a rising progressive star, that I chose his donation request as an opportunity to exert political leverage.)
Anyone who feels such a letter amounts to unjustly taking Obama's actions out on the wrong Democrats scarcely understands how laughably (and ultimately, scarily) little influence progressives have had on the Democratic Party in recent years. If we--or climate activists defending humanity's very survival--fail to apply available leverage in an election year, we fully deserve to reap the fruits of our political stupidity. Here's my personal attempt to apply such leverage:
Dear Rep. Grayson (or To Whom It May Concern),
As a real progressive, I'm frankly pretty disgusted with today's Democratic Party, above all as represented by the likes of Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, and Hillary Clinton. But as a political realist, I acknowledge that the Green Party (whose views, like those of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I almost completely embrace), is electorally hopeless, and I must therefore support the best Democrats we have. And I include you and Elizabeth Warren in those ranks.
But as a progressive who feels deeply betrayed by Obama-style Democrats, I'm not an easy sell. Before contributing dollars--and urging fellow progressive activists to contribute as well--I demand influence with you on issues where my side is unquestionably right. One such issue is the Keystone XL pipeline--and the intimately related issue of climate destruction. Human survival hangs in the balance, and Democrats' maintaining their cowardly silence and foot-dragging on humanity's most crucial issue is something progressives can no longer tolerate.
I know you're better on climate than most Democrats, but I'm demanding from you something specific and essential. I'm totally convinced that, now that Obama's given cover by a provably corrupt oil-industry-written State Department environmental impact study, he's ready to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Which, according to the best climate science, would be nothing short of a climate crime against humanity. What I demand from you is a substantial, verifiable effort to get Obama to reject the pipeline.
Specifically, Obama needs to know that progressive activists like me are holding Democrats like you personally responsible for what he, your party leader, does; I've already publicly pledged to vote Green in this November's election if Obama approves the pipeline, and I'm aggressively doing everything in my power to get fellow climate and progressive activists to do the same. I do have a fairly sizable Facebook list of activist contacts, and I frequently write popular articles for OpEdNews (which I share widely on Facebook), so my threats aren't utterly idle.
But I'd infinitely prefer not to be threatening you, but instead to be a warm supporter working actively for your reelection. Your letters to me frequently speak of how the nefarious Koch brothers spend vast sums to unseat you (a fact that speaks very well for you), but your own party leader is now poised to approve the Kochs' crime-against-humanity pipeline. Show me some meaningful efforts to thwart him, and you will find in me a generous (and, I hope, influential) supporter. One such meaningful effort would be making your Congressional Democratic colleagues deeply aware of the electoral threat I've made in this letter. They, like you, must feel relentless pressure to ensure that Keystone XL remains the Kochs'--and not Democrats'--pipeline. Your prospects this November may depend on it.