The other speaker

With all the attention on Michael Moore, a second prominentactivist went almost unnoticed at yesterday’s rally in the UrbanPlaza.

Carl Pope, who for 14 years has been executive director of theSierra Club, the nation’s largest and oldest environmental group,accompanied Moore to the rally but spoke only briefly.

Pope, who met Moore at the Democratic National Convention inJuly, has been an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush. Inthe last four years he has led the Sierra Club in environmentalefforts, from preventing oil drilling in the Alaskan WildlifeRefuge to lowering arsenic levels in drinking water.

Pope gave a much lengthier speech at a press conference beforethe public rally, mostly focusing on encouraging people to vote andthe role of environmentalists in the Nov. 2 election.

When asked about yielding the attention to Moore, however, Popeshrugged it off.

“We’re not about who gets the spotlight,” he said, though he didsay that an easy way to attract a large crowd is by bringing in acelebrity.

“Its about the core message,” Pope said. “We need to take ourdemocracy back by voting.”

Pope said that he believes that it will not be “swing voters”that decide the election as it has in the past. Instead, Pope saysthat what he calls “new voters,” meaning young people and peoplewho are motivated to vote for the first time, will ultimately bethe deciding factor.

In particular, he looks to people who have been angered byPresident Bush’s policies on the environment but may not have votedin the past.

“Most environmentalists have made up their mind where theystand,” he said.

According to Pope, most people do not realize the true value oftheir vote. He pointed to efforts by certain elections officials tocomplicate the voting process as evidence of the importance ofindividual votes.

“If your vote is so valuable to people who don’t want you tocast it, how much more valuable should it be to you?” he asked.

Pope also gave a strong endorsement of Sen. John Kerry at thepress conference.

“We’re not looking at the Kerry campaign, we’re looking at theKerry record,” Pope said, explaining the Kerry has a “solid record”on the environment and particularly praising his energy policy.