While the media was busy selling a false narrative about RFRA in Indiana (specifically that it was targeting the LGBT community while entirely failing to mention anything to do with them) the rest of the Left was paying close attention. Even though the state level representatives elected by the citizens were willing to craft a bill which ensured the right to observe the religious convictions of all the state’s residents – yes, even the Christians – and the governor they elected was willing to sign it, they were quickly sent scurrying for the trenches when some well monied interests were coerced into threatening them. Retail chains, a college athletic association… even NASCAR felt the pressure from community organizers, issued a few relatively unspecific threats and quickly got the state government to essentially eviscerate the bill. To be fair to the opponents in our political Game of Thrones, it was well played. Devious and nasty as a copperhead, but definitely well played.
As I said above, this did not escape the notice of other liberal movements. (And why would it? Only a fool would turn their nose up at the playbook of a winning team.) Take, for example, this piece from the web mouthpiece of the liberal Center for American Progress, in which the author notes that the climate change movement needs to learn from the example of the LGBT community and figure out how to essentially blackmail an entire state government.
The next great moral imperative is the fight to preserve a livable climate for our children and future generations. For progressives to win this fight — and the fate of literally billions of people hangs in the balance — we will have to match the state-level success the LGBT community and its allies recently showed in changing a discriminatory Indiana law.
Conservative political leaders and their polluting funders have declared their intention to do everything possible to seize control of state governments in 2016 and block climate action. The Koch brothers have pledged to raise an unprecedented $889 million just for this election cycle…
I am NOT saying that the climate action movement is broadly analogous to the marriage equality movement. The harm that climate inaction will bring to billions in the future is just too different from the extensive past and present discrimination and harm gays suffer. But one key similarity is the moral nature of the cause.
“Once third-rail issues transform into moral imperatives, impossibilities sometimes surrender to new realities,” as Salon explained in a 2013 piece on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Indeed Salon explained in a late 2011 article that what “moved gay marriage into the mainstream in 2011″ was “morality.”
Personally, I don’t see the people pushing for carbon taxes, gas taxes and mandates for expensive, inefficient green energy solutions (which all hit voters directly in the wallet) ever getting same sort of corporate buy-in that a more ambiguous social issue can stir. But do not doubt for a moment that the strategy is already being sketched out on some progressive blackboards. If you go back and read the second paragraph of the quoted section above you will be able to suss out the underlying message. Progressives realize that when they have to take their issues directly to the voters by way of their candidates and proxies debating the issues in the public square, they’ve been losing. Badly. And when the state legislatures slip from their grasp – even with the massive money of the unions behind them – you have to try something new.
The union reference here is particularly applicable because scare tactics are what work best for them. And that’s precisely what we’re seeing here… scare tactics. If you can woo some major figures in either job creation or public entertainment (or better.. both!) into threatening to boycott an entire state over the decisions made by the elected representatives of the voters, that’s a win. And it’s so much easier than having to convince people to support your positions and go through the tedious process of winning elections in a democratic process. All you need is money.
So rather than threatening to gather up the votes to win an election, you threaten businesses with a boycott and get them to do your dirty work and put pressure on the state government. It’s genius, really. I mean… a Darth Vader type of genius, but effective nonetheless. Well played, liberals.