Yesterday, I read about the deadlock in Congress over dealing with our deficit and I felt just sickened. I twittered:
“I’ve begun to think that both parties care more about institutional survival than our national and planetary survival.”
This, in turn, got fed to my “status” on my Facebook page, where lots of people started commenting. Eventually, a comment came from Joseph Romm, who writes Climate Progress. Joe is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank started by Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, John Podesta.
Here is the comment that Joe left on my Facebook page:
“Uhh, 90% of one party want a climate bill and 90% of the other doesn’t even believe it’s a problem. So how can you equate them?!”
But apparently Joe doesn’t realize what it looks like to a regular citizen when a party doesn’t do something meaningful about something it claims to care about.
Joe doesn’t realize how demoralizing it is for the average American citizen to see federal politicians of any complexion making compromises with our planet’s future ability to support us well.
He doesn’t realize what it is like to hear the words “clean coal”–a term made up by the coal industry lobbyists–on the lips of the party we thought would be aggressive on climate–the Democrats.
So this is what I wrote back to him on my Facebook page:
I’ll tell you, Joe, someone who gives you hope and never lives up to the promise feels more like a betrayer sometimes than someone who never gave you hope in the first place.
When the Democrats actually had a chance, when they owned the Senate, they gave us a lackluster climate bill in the House. One might argue, therefore, since they *believe* in climate change, that they are more culpable.
They believe in it, yet they strived for what they believe is politically possible instead of scientifically necessary. Where was the leadership from the White House? The Democrats pandered as the bill worked its way through the House and you know it.
I’m not saying that individual Democrats didn’t bleed to push through a bill on climate, but as an institution, the Democratic party let us down.
And honestly, US performance in Copenhagen–where we held the recent international climate talks–under Democratic leadership? Abysmal.
To say we shouldn’t be disappointed in the Democrats and feel that they don’t put the people first and haven’t acted as leaders on this issue because the Republicans would have done worse is disingenuous.
I really respect your work, Joe. I take a lead on climate from you. But not on politics. You can argue with me, but you’re a party insider. I am a voter who is passionate about saving this planet’s ability support us well. And I am disappointed by the Dems.
You can’t in good conscience tell me I’m wrong on this because you know I’m right.
And the reason it is important to say this out loud is because–while I will continue to vote for the party with the best climate policy and suggest others do the same–I also know that we the people have to find a way to move beyond passive dependence on corporatized federal politicians.
The people have to take charge. We have to change our lives, change our business, change our city governments, change our state governments, change our culture.
We have to work together to find and implement a way to have better and happier lives that use fewer planetary resources. We know now that even a blue flush in the House, Senate and White House won’t do the trick.
We need to use politics but move way beyond it at the same time. And for a party insider like you to say otherwise would only prove my point.
And that is why I say that I think the parties care more about their institutional survival than about the people or the planet.
I’m sorry to go on, but the politics of Washington are defunct. The Democratic politicians want to beat the Republicans. The Republican ones want to beat the Democratic ones. They are, like the rest of us, scared for their jobs!
But the American people? We just want to get along with each other and solve problems. We want happy lives and to be kind to our neighbors. We want leaders who care about us more than their own careers.
I’m sorry. I say this as no one special. I’m just another voter. But as another voter, I have to say the politicians of the United States are letting us down.
The good news is that we’re better than that. So how do we, the people take charge of our country, fill it with the love we have in hearts and take care of ourselves, each other and the whole world in a way we can be proud of?