Discord & Dissension – Part XI -The Climate

Posted by

While the Republican and Democratic Parties disagree on most things these days, nothing epitomizes the significant divide more than does climate change. And it’s not just those who sit in Congress either. According to a recent Pew Research poll conducted in February of this year, among Democrats and independents who lean to the Democratic Party, 78% said climate change should be a top priority.

However, among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, only 21% felt the same way. To put that in even more stark terms, Democrats view climate as a top priority by nearly three times that of Republicans.

And, it gets even worse when registered voters were asked whether climate change is a problem for the country today. 77% of Democrats/lean Democrat said yes, it was a huge problem, and 17% said it was a moderately big problem—a net of 94%. On the flip side, Republicans/lean Republican answered 13/27% for a net of 41%.

The thing is, it wasn’t always this way, at least as it pertained to the two political parties in D.C. In the 1970s, both sides of the aisle generally agreed that clean air and water were a good thing. There was widespread agreement back then, with bi-partisanship voting being a common occurrence. Remember, it was Republican President Richard Nixon who signed major environmental legislation into law, including the Clean Air and Water Acts, as well as the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

So what the hell happened? In the 1990s, the divide began to widen, and differences started to boil over. And much of that division can be traced, without a doubt, to the political lobbying of the fossil fuel industry, which is now firmly in control of the Republican Party. Up until the early 2000s, the contributions were split evenly between the two parties. However, according to the transparency group OpenSecrets, by the 2018 election cycle, a whopping 87% of industry contributions went to Republicans.

The days when Republican presidents like Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt led on environmental protection and establishing national parks are over my friends. We’re in a new era where intense lobbying efforts, and an out of control campaign finance system has relegated our politics to one of gridlock and partisan bickering. And one of the most troubling results is the fact that we are not adequately dealing with the climate change situation, nor the magnitude that is required to fix it. We need to be scaling up—not scaling down.

But with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, we’ve seen a dramatic rollback of environmental regulations the scale of which does not comport with previous Republican presidents. While George W. Bush relaxed rules put in by his predecessor, Bill Clinton, what Trump has done in this area makes Bush look like a tree-hugging liberal.

According to EcoWatch, nine conservation groups have named Trump “the worst president for our environment in history.” Some of these groups include Alaska Wilderness League Action, Clean Water Action, League of Conservation Voters, EDF Action, and the Sierra Club. In a statement released by the groups before Trump’s most recent State of the Union speech, they wrote:

“Donald Trump’s administration has unleashed an unprecedented assault on our environment and the health of our communities. His policies threaten our climate, air, water, public lands, wildlife, and oceans … Donald Trump has been the worst president for our environment in history. Unfortunately, our children will pay the costs of this president’s recklessness. Our organizations have repeatedly fought back against these attacks, and we will continue to fight to ensure that our kids don’t bear the brunt of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental agenda.”

If you want proof of Trump’s blatant disregard for the planet, according to The New York Times, as of December 21, 2019, the Trump administration had attempted to roll back more than 90 environmental rules and regulations, including:

*Replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan that limited carbon dioxide emissions from coal and natural gas plants. The action would let states make their own rules and could lead to as many as 1,400 additional air pollution deaths a year by 2030.

*Revoking California’s waiver to set its own vehicle emissions standards under the Clean Air Act.

*Changing how the Endangered Species Act is applied to make it harder to protect animals and plants from the climate crisis.

*Stripping protections from streams and wetlands that had been protected by the Obama administration.

These are but a few of Trump’s actions over the first 3.5 years of his presidency as it pertains to the environment. It’s not as if it’s a surprise, though. After all, one of his first actions was to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, which set the tone and direction for where Trump wanted to take the country. Remember, he thinks global warming is a hoax. Never forget that.

So what does this mean for you and me in 2020? If our current downward trend toward a climate catastrophe is something you care deeply about and want to help prevent, voting for Trump cannot be an option. The only option on this front is to vote for the Democratic nominee. And that’s going to be Joe Biden.

I get it. Supporters of Bernie Sanders do not want to hear that, but this is our reality. And, to be fair, the Senator’s supporters will state that Bernie’s backing of the Green New Deal shows how serious he is about climate change mitigation. Many are skeptical that Biden will make a difference—that he doesn’t take it seriously enough.

Look, Biden is more moderate than Sanders on most issues. We know that. But while he may not be as progressive as Sanders, he still is head and shoulders above Trump when it comes to the environment. It’s not even close. And let’s face it, one of the first things Biden said he would do is get us back in the Paris Agreement. That’s a good start.

I highly suggest heading over to JoeBiden.com for a more detailed plan on how he will address the urgent climate change crisis. Here are some of the highlights of his program:

*Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

*Build a stronger, more resilient nation by making smart infrastructure investments to rebuild the country and ensure our buildings, water, transportation, and energy infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change.

*Rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change by not only re-committing the United States to the Paris Agreement but go even further by leading an effort to get every major country to ramp up the ambition of their domestic targets.

*Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities.

*Fulfill our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth.

*Make an essential investment in our clean energy future and environmental justice paid for by rolling back the Trump tax incentives that enrich corporations at the expense of American jobs and the environment.

No matter how you look at it, Biden is poised to reverse much of what Trump has done to our environment. Much of it will have to be done via executive action, unfortunately, because enacting legislation in this day and age is next to impossible on most issues. One caveat, however, is if the Democrats can retake the Senate and retain the House majority. Then the prospects for concrete action through the legislative process becomes much better.

So if the environment and the earth are important to you, and if you think climate change is an existential threat to our future and way of life, I sincerely hope you remember that, as you contemplate your vote in November. There are many other issues to consider, and I understand that. But we cannot take a chance on four more years of Trump’s blatant degradation and disregard of our fragile planet.

And please remember this. If Biden wins the presidency, and he doesn’t address our concerns adequately, we can change him. We can push him more to the left if we have to.  The former Vice-President has been around the block a few times. He knows how to play the game, and he has a chance, a real possibility, to be one of the most transformational presidents we’ve ever had.

But that only happens if we turn out and vote. First things first.

One final note. As we go through one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history, with a pandemic staring down at us, believe it or not, there’s one positive that’s already bearing fruit—albeit a temporary one at that.

While certainly not the way to go about achieving reductions, it appears that the social distancing and other measures to address Covid-19 are giving us some of the most significant drops in CO2 emissions in years. Satellite photos of China show that the country’s pollution levels have fallen dramatically.

Imagine a time where we eventually are done with fossil fuels. Imagine a time where the reductions we see now become the new reality. Imagine us, as a country and world, beginning to reverse or stabilize what’s coming our way in terms of a climate catastrophe.

Imagine, yes. However, if you do not vote on November 3, or you think writing in a candidate as a form of protest is a choice, then forget about what could be possible. Because the reality of what you’re doing is helping Donald Trump win another four years. Our planet deserves better. You deserve better.

Discord & Dissension-Table of Contents

20 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    The single most important issue in the 2020 election (apart from unseating Trump, of course) is climate change. We have stepped back 20 years in the last three years under Trump, and quite frankly, time is running out. The earth’s resources are finite and we are using them at an alarming rate. For this, Part XI of our series Discord & Dissension, Jeff discusses where we are, where we need to go, how we can get there, and what happens if we don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post, Jeff, this certainly paints a clear picture. As the pandemic numbers in the US climb past China’s figures, it is very clear that Trump and his enablers have exacerbated an already horrid and frightening situation. Surely this is a wake-up call for most voters!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks John. Yes, they certainly have made it worse. He continues to force himself upon us every day, non-stop…on TV…Twitter…you name it. And he doesn’t seem to be taking much of a hit on this. I’m perplexed as to why this is. We’ll see, as this thing goes on. You and I see his failures. So many do not. It’s really hard to believe!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff, there are many reasons not to vote for Donald Trump, but his climate change stance and environmental degradation were the two I feared most if he was elected. This more than any other issue should be the galvanizing force to defeat Donald Trump.

    Just to be clear, I became an Independent voter more than a dozen years ago, leaving the Republican Party. I call myself fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I left for three principle reasons:
    1) the GOP stance on climate change way back then – if they cannot address the most existential threat to our planet, why should I believe them on other issues
    2) the GOP unhealthy embrace with the NRA and evangelicals.
    3) a tendency aided and abetted by Fox News and other sources to make things up. Both sides stretch the truth, but in my view it is not a normal curve. Fox was not created to tell the truth – it was created to tell you what to think.

    Now with Trump, the untruthfulness is off the charts. I encourage Democrats to stick to the truth. Bill Maher likes to say there is a false equivalency that one bad thing erases many bad things on the other side. It does not. But, do not make things up like the president does on a routine basis.

    Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    1. All valid reasons that you left the party Keith. Trump is merely a symptom to an already bleeding disease of the Republican Party. Now, he’s their standard-bearer and outright leader. They must pay a huge political price in November. I’m somewhat confident they will. Still though, not totally convinced America will answer the call and do what’s right. I’m beginning to think many Americans have accepted his petulance, lying, and authoritarianism more than what you and I think are deplorable and unacceptable behavior. Boy, I sure hope I’m wrong!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jeff, it is sad that conservative stalwarts pundits like George Will, David Brooks, Michael Gerson, Ross Douthat, Eric Erickson to name a few, go unheard. These folks were listened to more pre-Trump. Gerson was the first one to come out against the now-president.

        I say this to folks who might listen, but Trump is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Nixon who was a crook. Gary Trudeau reminded us in Doonesbury the two dozen women who claimed sexual assault against Trump did not do this for attention, as they have received trolling, bullying, death threats.

        It also gets back to those admirable public servants who testified under oath over their concerns about Trump extorting Ukraine. They knew the furor that would be unleashed on them, yet they did it anyway. I must confess, I see these brave folks, and am disgusted by actions of Messers. Trump, Nunes, Barr, Graham, Pompeo, etc. who attempted to denigrate these people.

        Keith

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well said, and well put Keith. I’d add Rick Wilson, George Conway, and Bill Krystal to you’re list as well. They’ve been very loud and very on point as regards to the despicable behavior of this president. Like you say, though, sadly, in Trumpworld, it does not resonate. Nothing will to those 40%. It’s a built-in chunk of people he will be able to count on in November. That’s a scary thought.

        Like

  4. Awesome analysis, Jeff. While I agree with this point you made: “And much of that division can be traced, without a doubt, to the political lobbying of the fossil fuel industry, which is now firmly in control of the Republican Party,” I’d add to it with this: While the fossil fuel industry–along with other corporate giants–controls the Republican Party at the top levels, at the grassroots level the motive is not the corporate handouts to GOP bigwigs. At the grassroots level it’s more a matter of contrariness. Most work-a-day Republicans are ignorant about most issues; they don’t base their political decisions on careful analyses of issues. Instead, most grassroots Republicans simply react. If “the Libs” support an issue, then the Republicans must, necessarily oppose it, and vice versa. Doesn’t matter what the issue is. If “Libs” declare their support of Mother’s Day, Trumpist Republicans will find a reason to oppose the holiday. The Republican Party has become the reactionary party. In the Trump era, few among its ranks have any original, well-thought-out ideas. Most just wait for the Democrats to make proposals, then they instinctively oppose those proposals. I’m confident of this analysis because until a few years ago I was one of those thoughtless, reactionary Republicans.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Jerry. You’re spot on. It seems that to most Trumpers/Republicans these days, it’s all about ‘owing the libs.’ Dems are just lazy good-for-nothings, waiting for handouts, while we ‘hard-working’ God-fearing patriots are the real Americans. It’s the FoxNews narrative, Rushbo, and others. They spread this crap, and now they have a leader they can all be proud of. There’s no such thing as nuance. It’s all black and white….no grey area, no intellectual curiosity.
      I saw a poll where Democrats trust the CDC, scientists, and governors the most…Trump the least. Republicans? They trust Trump overwhelmingly. That, my friend, tells us all we need to know.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m not American, so my opinion has no value in your political situation–but in so saying your political situation affects not only me, but every person and other living being on this Eath.
    I HOPE THERE IS STILL TIME FOR BERNIE SANDERS TO REGROUP AND WIN THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION. Here is why:
    Joe Biden is a career politician. As such he will deliver only about 10% of his campaign promises. He is weak. He will not have the strength or character to fight against the lobbyists of the oil, gas, coal, and forestry industries. They will allow him to make small changes, but he will not do anything that actually changes the world. Joe Biden has no imagination. He can only deal with what is i front of him. Leadership requires vision. It requires innovation. Score zero on both accounts.
    I do hope I am wrong, and he surprises me, but I fear he will not.
    Yes, he is better than Trump, and will slow down the opposition to climate change, but he will not change its direction RIGHT NOW, and that change needs to be made YESTERDAY, not in 2050.

    I’m not saying don’t vote for Biden if he is your candidate, Trump is a must lose asshole. But voting for Biden is voting for the better of two evils, and that is not worth me time. Lucky for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well Rawgod, Biden was and isn’t my first choice. I was a Warren supporter. I still think she’s the most qualified/smartest candidate we have. Too late, though. It’s Biden, unless something crazy happens. I agree, he is a career politician. But, it’s who Democrats feel has the best chance to beat the idiot in November. I believe that as well. I hope he’s up to the task at hand. He must choose a younger/exciting running mate. He says it’s going to be a woman and I agree with him. It’s not the transformational change we need. But, it’s who we need at this time. ABT- Anybody But Trump!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As I said, Americans are in a bad position right now, ABT notwithstanding. But those very words take the democracy out of your republic. You don’t give the people true choices, it must be a Democrat or a Republican, that wins. You might as well live in Russia! where you can only vote for one party. There’s not much difference.
        I’m sure there is to you, but not from where I stand outside of the USA.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, we have a two-party system. Those are the facts. I wish we had a viable third party-we don’t. I’ve been a Dem my whole life. I’ll continue to be one until I leave this earth. Not perfect by any means, and they piss me off often. But I will NEVER vote for a Republican. The last time I considered someone different was Ross Perot in 1992. If there was someone who I really liked, who ran as an independent and had at least a modicum of a chance to win, I’d consider it. Until then….Vote blue no matter who. That’s my philosophy. It may seem shallow. It may seem a cop out to you. But, I’ll take the Party that gave us Social Security…Medicare/Medicaid…minimum wage…family leave…overtime…40 hour work week…and many other worker friendly laws/programs. The Republican Party? Tax cuts for the wealthy, and you’re on your own. Sorry…..not a chance.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I am okay with most of what you say, Jeff, but I do want to comment on your condition, that an independent candidate have “at least a modicum of a chance to win”. I have a huge problem with this, because how many people might be thinking the same way, but knowing an independent seldom, if ever, wins a presidential or gubernatorial election, everyone decides to vote for the second best candidate rather than the best. (This is of course an “if” situation, but you’ll never know if it has any truth because it has never happened, in my limited understanding.) If you don’t vote with your mind, but with your conformity, you are not being a good democratic citizen.
        I know everyone wants to back a winner, it makes you feel good to know your vote counted. And I am not talking about this election coming, it is already a two party race. UNLESS, if Bernie Sanders loses the Democrcrat nonmination, he decides to run as an independent anyway. Better yet, if WARREN was to run as an independent canditate, seeing as you personally prefer her to any of the men. Given the chance, would you vote Warren over Biden?
        From what you said above, I think you would vote Biden, because you believe Blue over all.
        My take on that, win at your own risk

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s a good question rawgod. Would I vote for Warren over Biden if she ran as an independent? If it meant helping, in any way, re-electing Trump…no way. I know what you’re saying. If everyone thinks that way, then you’re admitting defeat before it even happens. But, that’s the political landscape in America. The two parties have our system by the throat. The roadblocks for another party are nearly insurmountable. It’s why it never happens. Now is not the time for throwing something in the air to hope for the best. Mission numero uno is beating you know who. It’s my mission, and it’s the mission of nearly every Democrat. If that wasn’t the case, why has Bernie only declared himself a Democrat in the context of running for president? He’s not a Dem. Never has been. He prides himself on being an Independent from Vermont. He knows the game rawgod. He’s made the determination-in 2016-and now in 2020-that he couldn’t win the presidency running as an independent. Many Dems do not like him for that very reason. He’s simply running as a Dem because he has to. I personally like Bernie, and would have proudly voted for him. Others? not so much.
        So, I don’t know if I’ve satisfied you with my answer. You may think I’m not showing conviction-that I’m not thinking ‘outside the box’ so to speak. But, this is NOT the year for me to question whether I should be conforming or not. This is the year to mobilize and defeat the idiot currently in office. You can call it conforming. I’m going to call it a necessity. Let’s agree to disagree on that?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. All I’m doing is asking questions (loaded questions to be sure!) to make sure you have thought carefully about what you are doing. Trump is undermining democracy, there is no doubt about that. But your methods are undermining democracy too, just in another direction.
        Good luck to getting rid of Trump, but I think the fix is already in. When Trump says he cannot lose, I believe him. I hope he is wrong, but he lies, cheats, steals, and rigs elections. That’s how he won in 2016, and that is why he will win in 2020. That is just the way it is…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. He said it in an interview just other day. Vote by mail options for everyone would be devastating to Republicans. In other words, we don’t want a bunch of people voting. We’d lose every election. That about says it all….

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s