Governing to Save the Earth : An Analysis of How to Elect a Pro-Climate Congress in the United States of America
Abstract: This thesis aims to provide a political strategy for building a lasting pro-climate governing majority in the House and Senate. It analyses the current state of the pro-climate coalition in Congress and lays out the top opportunities for and threats to climate governance in the US. Overall, passing robust climate legislation through the US Congress requires a clear understanding of how social identities drive voting behavior, not policy preferences or voting to hold elected officials accountable. Using America’s dominant regional and racial social group identities as an analytical frame, I argue that progress on climate change is possible only if climate advocates employ a region by region electoral political strategy that: 1. maximizes the number of pro-climate members of Congress from Democratic regions 2. creates a workable majority by helping Democrats win seats in swing regions and the Far West; and 3. reforms the Senate rules concerning the filibuster in order to adapt to the new normal of highly competitive American politics. Even if this strategy is successful, I argue that passing the broad suite of climate legislation necessary to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will likely require long-lasting partisan realignment that produces a clear majority from a large cross-section of America’s thirteen ethnoregions. A major crisis will be required to make such a realignment possible.
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