Thoughts on the Election – and Where We Go From Here
12 minutes ago, as I started writing this… it was reported that Hillary Clinton conceded the election to Donald Trump.
We should no longer have to argue, as we know and have always said, that people say what they think they are supposed to say in polls, that they decide in tribes, and that they believe and follow myths that support their own version of reality. It happens equally among liberals as it does conservatives, which is why some of us are now stunned. It will be a long time before anyone trusts the pollsters again.
Progressives have a strong set of facts to support their claim to leadership – better economy, greater job creation, lower federal deficit, cleaner environment, better care for our disadvantaged, better international relationships and less war. There are irrefutable and powerful facts and long term trends behind all these.
Conservatives have their set – we’re leaving rural and the middle class behind, focusing on the lower and upper classes. We negotiate trade deals that cost America jobs. We’ve gone from superpower to a nation lacking influence the Middle East, much of Asia, and we don’t even compete with the Chinese in Africa. We’re headed for the same long-term slow/no growth economy that pervades Europe and Japan. They can point to lack of income growth, the trade deficit, negative interest rates and other facts….
In any case, we wake up this morning facing a new reality. And the mid-term horizon does not portend different trends. 2018 could be an even stronger year for the Republicans. There will an amazing amount of historical and political analysis pouring out in the upcoming days, months and years. Our democracy (at this point) is not under question – it is resilient and just did what it is supposed to do, reflect the values and desires of the people.
This shift in political power presents progressives with the exceptional and existential question that only yesterday we thought faced the conservatives – are our values and perspectives relevant in America today?
No matter what, we’ll learn a lot. We need to step back and reconsider our positions and policies. But it would be hard to overestimate the fact that we face very risky consequences. The global markets will crash. They’ll recover a bit in upcoming weeks but then trend down further… depending on what Trump does (not sure how to equate that with Republicans). Domestic and international politics will be unstable and volatile.
But there is one overwhelming threat here – and that is to our ecosystems. We can recover from the evils of economic isolation, racism and even fascism – given some time. But we will not be able to recover from the damage we are now doing to our atmosphere and oceans – to nature itself.
From an ecoAmerica perspective, we are an alternative strategy to what enviros just tried and didn’t work. Our concept of building the base vs. just activating it; of reaching out to other groups currently disengaged from the climate debate, from their values and perspectives instead of using them to further ours; and of connecting climate to their values and supporting their organizations is the way forward. We need to be a part of society, not a special interest. We need to join them, not have them join us.
There are some real ills in our democracy that allow groups to divide and manipulate us. We are feeling the effects of the loss of the Fairness Doctrine and the impact of the Citizens United ruling. We need to work on those. And as to our other values – justice, inclusion, just transition, and intergenerational equity – we need to double down and make them more than just talking points. We need to make them happen. And ecoAmerica will be doing just that.
Here’s another piece on this. Like everyone else, here at ecoAmerica we’ll be talking and questioning ourselves… but at this point, nothing is certain, and as my granddaughter Ellie says when she’s distressed, “I need a hug.”