Bill McKibben claims “the hardest part of the Keystone pipeline fight has been figuring out what in the world to do about the Democrats.” He acknowledges that, “taken as a whole, they’re better than the Republicans”:
[A]s I turn this problem over and over in my head, I keep coming to the same conclusion: We probably need to think, most of the time, about how to change the country, not the Democrats. If we build a movement strong enough to transform the national mood, then perhaps the trembling leaders of the Democrats will eventually follow. I mean, “evolve.” At which point we’ll get an end to things like the Keystone pipeline, and maybe even a price on carbon. That seems to be the lesson of Stonewall and of Selma. The movement is what matters; the Democrats are, at best, the eventual vehicle for closing the deal.
The greatest error of almost all important social movements is to look for and follow the politicians for success. The politicians are often the last people to get it. That was the underlying principle behind the marriage equality movement – we would change hearts and minds on the ground first. Then after 25 years of that, we have a sudden Senate majority for equality. In a couple of months. That pattern can tell you a lot.