Ask most Americans these days what’s keeping them up at night, and you’re likely to hear that it’s the economy and the lack of jobs. What’s not on their minds? Well, climate change for one. But for two dozen senators, climate change was reason enough to stay up all night.
While you were sleeping Monday night, senator after senator took to the floor trying to outdo one another on who loves the environment more.
But unlike previous all-nighters, this spectacle was odd, because the senators were not filibustering any specific piece of legislation or treaty.
In fact, the Associated Press described it this way:
Democratic leaders have no plans to bring a climate bill to the Senate floor this year, so the speeches were about little more than theatrics. House Democrats pushed through a bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming in 2009, then lost their majority the following election.
So what gives? Perhaps Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) can enlighten us:
This is about trying to raise the profile and being to gain some momentum on this issue. Then I think we’re in a position to ask corporate America and other groups and organizations to get more engaged and open the kind of space it will take to pass a bill. But the first thing we have to show is that we’re engaged ourselves.
In other words, these senators were trying to raise money. What kind of money? For this, we turn to Ed O’Keefe from The Washington Post:
…there is another more political reason for the decision by Senate Democrats to devote their time to the issue right now. And that issue is campaign cash. Environmental groups spent about $20 million on ads and other activities to help Democrats in 2012 and gave about $742,000 directly to candidates during the cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
As Heritage President Jim DeMint reminds us in a recent column for The Foundry, the sad truth is that the real Washington is not all too different from the fictional “House of Cards” television series depicting a capital dominated by special interests. DeMint said:
Congress is now held in disdain by a large majority of Americans. And for good reason. The process envisioned by our Founders to produce a transparent and constrained government has been replaced by a system designed to mislead people, keep them in the dark, and control their lives.
In case you needed a reminder why Congress has one of the lowest approval ratings in the history of modern public polling, this talk-a-thon was further proof that politicians are more concerned with ways to please fundraisers than with addressing the issues keeping most Americans up at night.