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Green Lobby Takes Over Democratic Senate

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The Wall Street Journal

The party of the trade union working class is gone. Green money rules.

It looks as if Tom Steyer did get something for the $74 million he spent on the midterm elections. The billionaire environmentalist bought what is left of the Democratic Senate. That’s the story behind the remarkable display Tuesday night in which 41 Democrats voted to abandon a Senate seat rather than cross Mr. Steyer and the big green money machine.

Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu wanted a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline to show her clout before a runoff election against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy on Dec. 6. Majority Leader Harry Reid gave her the vote after months of refusing, only to join most other Democrats and filibuster Ms. Landrieu’s bill.
Only 13 Democrats supported their comrade and 45 Republicans to approve Keystone, and four of those have lost their seats. Ms. Landrieu is now contemplating the undercarriage of her party’s bus, while Mr. Cassidy can credibly tell Louisiana voters he’ll deliver the votes if he joins 53 other GOP Senators next year.

Ms. Landrieu will no doubt prosper as a former Senator, so the vote is more important for what it says about the Democratic Party. The party of the private union working class is gone. Green money rules.

Mr. Steyer made that clear when he refused to support any Democrat who backed the Keystone XL. This also explains why some of us have been wrong in thinking that President Obama would eventually support Keystone. How could he give up on an $8 billion investment and so many jobs in a weak economy? The reason is that the church of climate change carries a bigger check book. Now Mr. Obama is promising to veto a Keystone XL bill even if it does pass Congress.

Note the bitter reaction from Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union, who said Tuesday’s vote “took food off the table of our members.” He added that “the majority of Democrats in the Senate and the White House just don’t get it, even though the recent election results surely should have sunk in by now. They have lost their way, their purpose and their base.”

Sorry, Terry. They do get it. You’re simply not part of the “base” that matters to the new liberal “coalition of the ascendant.” That coalition is composed of minorities, single women who look to government for economic security, public unions and what political writer Michael Barone calls “gentry liberals.” Pipelayers aren’t gentrified enough.

For these liberals, climate change has become a totemic cultural issue, like abortion rights and gay marriage. It therefore doesn’t matter if the oil from Alberta will still be developed even if Keystone is never built, or that the oil will be transported by trains that are more dangerous and more carbon-intensive. What matters is that they are on the right side of the cultural and political symbolism.

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