Please note: this essay is not about politics. I find US politics as they are presently practiced bewildering and nasty. I have no stomach for the slings and arrows of outrageous US politics. Nor is this a diatribe about climate deniers. These are other people’s battles, battles that should have ended years ago.
This essay is a plea to remove Climate Change denial from US politics. Climate Change should be apolitical, as if it were as much about our environment as our environment—our life support system. I know, it seems at this moment in time like an impossible request in every sense …, except we do not have the time to remove Climate Change denial from a position it should have never been placed. Inserting Climate Change denial into the mêlée of US politics has put everyone, including the party embracing it, in an impossible position. We can and should debate how to address Climate Change, but it’s suicidal for our country to doubt that it exists.
Voting is important. It has always been integral to democracies. Folks have lived their lives and died so others of different races, genders, religions, and financial status can vote. Getting people to vote is difficult at this point in history because of a prevailing mood that because of money and political influence one’s vote doesn’t count. Corporations, many of which are extremely politically influential, are now ‘people’, according to the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission These corporate-backed groups have almost unlimited funds to manipulate votes. This befouls our political system with pervasive lobbying and makes these powerful Climate Change deniers the puppeteers of our legislative puppets.
So why bother voting?
Attempting to get beyond the voting malaise of the present generation is a great get-out-the-vote video going viral:
'Turn Out for What' Video Aims to Get Millennials to the Voting Booths “Rapper Lil John (the name on his ballot is Jonathan Smith) has repurposed his 2013 summer anthem "Turn Down for What" into a celebrity-filled parody music video, "#TURNOUTFORWHAT," appropriately employing a hashtag to encourage millennials to post, tweet, and share the video with their peers.” (October 8, 2014 Yahoo News)
This video is wonderfully whacky and poignant, but it does throw a grab bag of issues at potential voters. Nonetheless, no one in the video is trying to make up your mind for you on any particular issue; they’re just trying to get you to vote. It doesn’t matter what you vote on, just vote.
But it does matter not only that you vote, but vote through the lens of Climate Change. The warming of our oceans and air temperatures due to manmade Climate Change is accelerating, not abating. It does matter that we understand and accept that humanity’s use of fossil fuels is causing this condition, because we cannot solve the effect if we deny the cause.
We need to prioritize our issues in accordance to Climate Change because in order for our candidates to do their job, they need to plan. That means there needs to be plans and actions in place long before our infrastructures crumble, our food security fails, and disasters due to sea rise and extreme weather events overwhelm our ability to adapt. It’s not that Climate Change is more important and urgent than jobs, public health, equality, justice, energy and anything else; it’s that they all must be addressed within the context of a warming world. You would not carry on normal activities on a cruise ship that was quickly sinking. You’d be preventing the ship from sinking and prioritizing all other issues and activities accordingly.
The mid-term elections (by definition) do not include voting for the next president, which will be held in 2016. But they will be setting the table for the direction for the future. If the people don’t clearly demonstrate in the voting booth that climate denial is not acceptable in a candidate or party, this particular suicidal form of delusionalism will rule. Our ship, as it were, will continue to sink.