Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The downside of policy success

In "Environmentalists Slow to Adjust in Climate Debate" David Farenthold of the Washington Post makes an interesting point about persistence, or the lack of it, within the environmental community when it comes to grassroots advocacy on climate issues.

While industry groups have continued in "campaign-mode" to highlight concerns about climate change legislation, even friends of the environmental community admit that they "slacked off" after the House passed climate reform legislation earlier this year, which may have been a mistake. As anyone can tell you, it's relatively easy to get a Democratically-controlled House to pass legislation associated with Democratic agenda items. It's the Senate where the real fun will begin during September, and it's the Senate where industry groups have focused their time and effort -- and money.

In fact, some might argue that money is the real difference between the two sides. Reason suggests that industry-types might have more money to pour into a campaign against climate change legislation and it is true that their investments have led to a series of television ads and much glitzier rallies and campaign "whistle-stops" than the ennviornmental community.

But the article points to another important element missing in the environmental communities' message -- passion. While the environmental coalition is running ads and holding events, they tend to be lower key, less enthusiastic and, thankfully, less shrill than what the industry is puting forth.

Perhaps the trajectory of this debate points to a political truism: it's easier to be passionate about something you're scared of than something you're for. And since passion for your cause is a critical component for persistence, it's no wonder that as the left gets more of what it wants from government (in health care, environmental protection and the like), they likewise become more complacent.

It's the downside of success that we all should be aware of, regardless of whether we're talking policy change, business success or plain old life!

No comments: