Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Direct Action Works

A new piece of research on environmental activism and environmental legislation between 1960 and 1994 in the United States has shown that:

  • pro-environment bills have a much better chance of being passed in a Congress controlled by Democrats
  • pro-environment bills have a slightly poorer chance of being passed under a Democratic president
  • but most importantly of all, the researcher

    examined the impacts of working inside and outside the institutions of government. Working inside the system, which is how business is generally conducted in Washington, D.C., includes lobbying, petitions, voter-registration campaigns and court cases. Working outside the system includes protests and marches, sit-ins and boycotts.

    “Contrary to conventional wisdom, working from the inside has not had much of an impact and, in general, public opinion doesn’t matter,” he said. “Most people say they are for the environment and lawmakers say, ‘Yeah, yeah,’ but they don’t do anything unless people start protesting. Protests amplify public opinion by directing politicians’ attention to the public’s interest.”

(Via an email from Brian Burch on the SAN list)

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