On Monday, [California billionaire Thomas] Steyer, who has spent more than $37 million of his own fortune in the past few years on California ballot initiative fights, joined with four young Massachusetts activists to pressure Rep. Steve Lynch (D-Mass.) to shift his position on the pipeline. Lynch has voted to pressure President Obama to grant TransCanada a permit to construct the pipeline; his rival in the April 30 primary, Rep. Edward J. Markey, opposes the project and has championed climate legislation.The Massachusetts Senate primary is shaping up to be a battle over the environment, much as the IL-02 primary was fought over guns. And with Conservadem Steve Lynch on the wrong side of Keystone, it offers up a clear contrast between the two candidates.
In a letter to Lynch, Steyer and four Massachusetts environmentalists — a recent law school graduate, two college students and a high school student — asked the congressman “to do one of two things by high noon on Friday, March 22. Either act like a real Democrat and oppose Keystone’s dirty energy. Or, get a sworn, binding statement — with securities law enforcement — from TransCanada and the refiners that all of the Keystone-shipped oil will stay here.”
However, aside from the particulars of this primary match-up, the fact that Steyer is willing to part with considerable sums of his cash in order to advance his cause is quite encouraging.
I know the goo-goo liberals will hate it, but fact is that 1) conservative billionaires are already dumping hundreds of millions into the political system, and any counter to that is worth celebrating, and 2) the system won't change until conservatives feel that they no longer get an advantage from it.
We'll need more than Bloomberg and Steyer to erase those massive conservative advantages, but it is a sign that reluctant billionaires are starting to rally to progressive causes. We get a few more of those, and conservatives will have to start reconsidering the wisdom of their grand Supreme Court victory.