Wednesday, July 26, 2023
#207 / Let's Get Political
The collage presented above comes to you from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It brings together a number of photographs that document the kind of global warming impacts that are being felt all over the world, and right here in the United States of America, as well.
Facing ever more frequent "climate-related" disasters, American property owners are becoming "uninsurable." Major insurance companies are unwilling to insure against the fire, flooding, drought, tornado, and other impacts that are now, more and more, expected to occur, as the Earth's climate systems "fight back" against the environmental impacts that human beings have caused by their massive commitment to the virtually unrestrained combustion of hydrocarbon fuels.
Trying to get the United States government to do something significant about our global warming crisis (like radically reducing our continued combustion of hydrocarbon fuels) has proven more than just "difficult." It seems, in fact, to have been proven virtually "impossible."
I am a supporter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, which has been working to get Congress to do something meaningful about the global warming crisis since 2007. One of its goals has been to have Congress enact a "carbon tax," as a way to induce all of us - individually, but corporations, in particular - to burn fewer hydrocarbons. I think it's fair to say that CCL has not had any significant success in getting Congress to take action.
Since I continue to believe (some would say against the evidence) that it is possible to use "politics" to make real changes in the laws that govern how we conduct ourselves in the human-created world that we most immediately inhabit, what do I conclude when I see the lack of success of the Citizens Climate Lobby?
I do have an answer.
Let's focus on the word "lobby" in the group's title, which, I think, can be fairly said to represent the theory on which CCL operates. The premise is that our elected representatives should be "lobbied" to do something effective about a problem that is directly related to our governmental policies - which, then, have impacts on all of us. I actually think CCL has done a pretty effective job of mobilizing citizens, around the country, to learn about and then lobby for, what would likely be an effective governmental strategy to counter the global warming impacts that are pictured in the collage above. We need, says CCL, a "carbon tax," and that would really help!
But, as already indicated, besides its rather effective organizing effort, aimed at "lobbying" Congress to do what is needed, virtually no success has been achieved.
Maybe - and this is my personal observation - "lobbying" our elected representatives is not the correct mechanism to change our "politics."
What do I suggest, then?
Well, I think an effective "politics" needs to take citizen self-government seriously, and that absolutely starts with the idea that our elected "representatives" are supposed to "represent" those whom they have been elected to represent. If any specific elected representative is not doing that, then "asking" them to do that is not the right response. The right response is to vote them out of office, and to replace them with someone who will do what we want. "Representatives" who don't actually do what the voters want, absolutely must be replaced, because they are not, in fact, properly representing the people whom they are supposed to represent.
This statement about political "strategy" is not, really, aimed specifically at the Citizens Climate Lobby. I am using the group's name to make clear the basic principle involved in every political issue and political effort. Our elected representatives are placed into positions of power because they are supposed to do what we want. They are supposed to "represent" voters. Currently, with respect to virtually every important issue, these representatives mainly represent "money."
As anyone who has ever been involved in politics will attest, it is extremely difficult to organize voters to take their power seriously , and to throw out of office any elected representive who is not, in fact, doing what a majority of the voters really want. "Difficult," yes! "Impossible," no!
MOST voters, everywhere, want to be able to live without global warming disasters devastating their normal lives. MOST voters want a government that starts eliminating, instead of increasing, the economic inequalities that are ever more evident, throughout our society. MOST voters want women to be able to choose to make their own choices about abortion. MOST voters want a system that provides medical care for everyone, and that provides education for everyone, too.
Etc. There are lots of issues on which there is a broad consensus on what we "want." People have given up on "politics" because those placed into positions of governmental power are not, in fact, actually "representing" those who put them there.
The coming failure of governments to repair and restore vital infrastructure, after disasters, and to prevent the disruption of "norml life" as global warming impacts manifest themselves in sea level rise, droughts, floods, species extinction, and other such impacts, is an example of what is generally the truth. Our current governments, at virtually every level (the federal government level being the worst) are profoundly unrepresentative. Our elected representatives are not doing what the voters who have put them in office want.
Do we care? Or, maybe more accurately, do we care enough to do something about it?
If we do, then there is only one thing that will change the current situation. Ordinary people, everywhere, must decide that what they care about is not going to be addressed through their individual, personal action alone. We are "together" in this life, and our governments are suppost truly to "represent" what the majority wants. Is there, really, a "majority" on some of these important "political" questions? I think the answer is "yes." But the way to assert the power of that majority will require many more of us to reallocate our time and money, and personal efforts, so as to put representatives into office who actually do "represent" us, and who actually do what we want.
American history provides us some guidance. There really isn't any alternative to our personal decision to reorient "our lives, and our fortunes, and our sacred honor" to putting into power, in government, "representatives" who will, in fact, truly "represent" us - who will do what we want them to do.
There are, of course, different ideas about what we should, collectively, do. "Politics" is how we make a decision, as a society, about what we truly do want.
With respect to global warming, to return to the specific issue with which I introduced my general comments, the fate of human civilization is what's at stake, not to mention the plant and animal species that are being pushed towards extinction. So....
Let's get political!