By Patrick Walker
With comments from original thread
Note: Not mentioned in this article about the climate crisis and the Green New Deal in US politics, is the one candidate who is running on an effective Green New Deal that is thought through. Howie Hawkins is seeking the Green Party nomination and was the first candidate to run on the Green New Deal in 2010. Since then more than 60 Green Party candidates have endorsed it and Jill Stein ran on the issue in both her campaigns. Democrats are finally catching up.
In his presidential campaign, Hawkins is putting forward an Ecosocialist Green New Deal that includes an Economic Bill of Rights, a Green Economy Reconstruction Program and confronts US militarism, an essential component of a Green New Deal, ignored by the Democrats. Hawkins urges a transition to clean, sustainable energy by 2030 and an immediate halt to building fossil fuel infrastructure. Even this basic requirement, which is dictated by climate science, is not included in the Democratic Party Green New Deal proposals. He calls it ecosocialist because to put in place the Green New Deal will require system change that cannot be made under the current US political economy.
The Hawkins Plan is the standard by which all Green New Deals are compared as he actually confronts the problem based on climate science and is not curtailed by the power of the energy industry and other business interests that fund the Democratic Party.
Some Gallows Humor
Seeing the grave existential and political fix we’re now in, some gallows humor—a sophomoric old joke highly pertinent to my title theme—seems as good a way to start as any.
Q: What’s the difference between a virgin and a light bulb?
A: You can unscrew a light bulb.
Like the virgin of this admittedly sick joke (relic of more patriarchal times), the climate movement has been truly and royally screwed by Democrats. Given what’s at stake, a more appropriately inflammatory term is raped, and as with virginity in cultures where virginity deeply matters, the damage Democrats have done the climate movement (and thereby all of humanity) by their rape is grievous and simply irreparable.
To be clear, by “Democrats” in this piece I mean the Clintonite Schumer-Pelosi establishment that actually controls the party, as well as their media mouthpieces at the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, and NPR. I do not mean Democrats’ voting base (much of it more progressive than the party establishment) or the relatively powerless progressive insurgency led by politicians like Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and the four brave women of “the Squad.” In speaking of the Democratic Party as an agent in US politics, it’s natural to call “Democrat” behavior the results those who control the party and its media discourse intend and actually get. My usage isn’t meant to “diss” the nascent progressive element in the party; rather, it’s meant to underline—and lament—its powerlessness.
Well-merited rape metaphors aside, Democrats (as just defined) have literally wasted two and a half precious, never-recoverable years fixating public attention on a Russiagate conspiracy largely of their own concoction instead of an ever-worsening climate crisis. In the process, they have aggravated a nuclear arms race incompatible by its sheer cost alone with addressing humanity’s climate emergency, to say nothing of steeply eroding trust with a Russian petrostate whose close cooperation will be needed in phasing out fossil fuels. And nuclear arms aside, recklessly increasing tensions with Russia (with little rational justification) inevitably increases spending on conventional militarism—when the US military is already the world’s leading institutional consumer of oil.
Grievous as the harms just named are, they’re hardly the worst ways in which Democrats have raped the climate movement. If we wish to talk seriously about conspiracy and collusion, we should be discussing nothing Russia did, but rather how Democrats have silently aided and abetted Climate-Criminal-in-Chief Donald Trump in committing an unprecedented act of climate genocide—and racist climate genocide to boot. Much as the Michael Klare piece just linked to focuses on the obscene consequences (above all, for poor people of color) of climate inaction, Trump’s aggressive worsening of the climate emergency—as if climate science were his most hated personal enemy—is far more criminally insane than mere inaction.
Yet Democrats—in both a self-serving and politically suicidal way—have unconscionably placed nearly all their Trump “resistance” eggs in the forever-fraying (see here and here) Russiagate basket, meanwhile scarcely breathing a syllable about Trump’s egregious, unprecedented climate crime against humanity. By callously sacrificing voter concerns—including Trump’s racist, genocidal climate policy—to Russiagate, Democrats have handed Trump and Republicans a huge electoral gift, likely giving climate’s most destructive, obstinate enemies four more years in charge of the climate emergency. They’ve also likely put a megalomaniac tyrant’s impeachment—for even his most destructive policies—in such partisan disrepute that it’s forever off the table.
Nothing could have done more lasting, irreparable harm to the climate movement.
The Damage Done: Even Staunch Progressives Are Silent
Sadly, even staunch progressives have begun to echo Democrats’ climate policy silence. In an insightful essay highlighting the folly of impeaching Trump over “obstruction of justice,” Jim Kavanagh cites numerous legitimate policy reason for which Democrats (setting impeachment aside) could have and should have conducted a “frontal political assault” on Trump. Kavanagh cites Trump as “vulnerable for increasing inequality, social insecurity, and foreign aggression.” Shockingly, he does not mention Trump’s relentless, unconscionable assault on climate and environment. That so unquestionably solid a progressive as Kavanagh, while rightly lambasting Democrats’ Russiagate/Mueller obsession, doesn’t even think Trump’s most insane, dangerous policy worth naming as replacement attack grounds, should prove to climate activists how irreparably Democrats’ Russiagate rape has damaged our cause. What needs to be the lead issue of the 2020 presidential campaign is so deeply buried that not even staunch progressives mention it as grounds for voter grievance with Trump!
My point here is not to impugn Kavanagh’s motives (which I assume are honorable), but to give climate activists a desperately needed wake-up call. My best guess is that Kavanagh, sincerely and legitimately hell-bent on defeating Trump in 2020, simply didn’t think climate criminality would register with voters as much as the grievances he mentioned. He may well be right, but that’s a serious problem—one only a united climate movement can hope by its own efforts to solve. Climate is a desperate, short-timetable emergency that can’t afford to be put on the back burner next to anything; the climate movement’s only hope for saving humanity is to raise the public profile of that truth.
If I cited marginal presidential candidate Jay Inslee’s New York Times op-ed in favor of the view that climate action must be our top priority, I did so for a crucial strategic reason. See, it’s hardly as if Inslee is completely right and Kavanagh is completely wrong. Far from it. Inslee is totally right that climate action must be our government’s top priority, but he’s crazily wrong in thinking it’s the public opinion winner he takes it to be. There’s a genuine, crucial question of truth to be split between Inslee and Kavanagh, and the best evidence of the important truth on Kavanagh’s side lies in Inslee’s own pathetic polling numbers.
Clearly, presidential hopeful Inslee has made the climate issue his hill to die on. Obviously, a candidate’s choice of main issue isn’t the sole, or even chief, determinant of that candidate’s polling success; clearly, factors such as name recognition, media support, political organization strength, perceived prospects of winning, and debate performance play huge roles. But Inslee has so thoroughly identified himself with the climate issue that if climate were the automatic winning issue Inslee claims, his numbers in many of the aggregated polls just linked to would surely exceed a Lilliputian 1%! Quite plausibly, Inslee would be polling much better—and would probably be defining much of the Democratic debate agenda—if Democrats had ever responsibly emphasized the criminal insanity of Trump’s and Republicans’ climate policy.
My chief concern here is to make the politically comatose climate movement aware of how royally, irreparably it’s been screwed—yes, raped—by Russiagate Democrats pushing a narrative with no seeming connection to climate. Climate activists’ failure to connect these crucial dots has made Russiagate analogous to a coma-inducing, rape-permitting drug. But on the topic of splitting the truth difference between Kavanagh and Inslee (whom I brought up mainly to further illustrate how deeply Democrats’ Russiagate fixation has screwed climate activists), I’ve left some loose ends hanging. I’ll briefly try to tie them up before proceeding to my Russiagate-damning conclusion.
Yes, Inslee is right that climate action needs to be our nation’s top priority. Yes, Kavanagh is right (in implying by his silence) that climate action is not the chief issue on most voters’ minds. But fortunately, the climate movement has two readily available means to split the truth between them.
One such means is the Green New Deal (GND), which gives the climate issue top priority, while cleverly wrapping it in a package of populist reforms that appeal widely to voters of both parties. In this sense, a strong-polling populist like Bernie Sanders, who espouses climate action via the GND, is a far more effective climate champion than someone who, like Inslee, embraces it directly. The climate movement can do wonders for its cause by incessantly demanding the GND and by supporting only populist politicians who fearlessly embrace it. It’s worth adding, of course, that the climate movement will need to apply relentless pressure to keep Democrats (assuming they even gain power) from watering the GND down to the point it’s meaningless.
One other means of splitting the truth between Inslee and Kavanagh (realizing the climate issue has vast potential but is not yet a big winner) is for the climate movement itself to do the job that Democrats raped them by reprehensibly shirking. Namely, constantly hammering the criminal insanity—the racist, genocidal criminal insanity—of Trump’s climate policy. Personally, I still the best way to do this is for climate activists to demand that Trump be impeached for policies amounting to climate terrorism. I still think climate-based impeachment is the one exception to the rule that any impeachment launched by House Democrats after Russiagate will appear grossly partisan and will backfire politically. To me at least, it’s strikingly obvious that taking the climate issue seriously enough to impeach Trump over it disgusts Democrats more than the prospect of eating dung beetles; unsurprisingly, no Democrat politician—not even climate hawk Inslee—has ever suggested Trump’s genocidal climate policy as grounds for his impeachment. Just to guarantee that Trump’s climate impeachment does not appear a partisan Democrat thing, climate activists should demand it—if at all—as Democrats’ penance for their Russiagate-based rape of the climate movement.
But even if climate-based impeachment strikes climate activists as too risky, we should demand some related penance of Democrats—like using language that exposes Trump and Republicans’ biggest vulnerability while forcing Democrats themselves to publicly take the climate emergency seriously. As Democrats’ penance for Russiagate, I propose demanding that Democratic presidential candidates refer to Trump’s climate policy as climate genocide or a crime against humanity, with climate activists dispensing extra forgiveness (or brownie points) for adding the word racist to each formula. Climate-change denial is, after all, the GOP’s terrorist suicide vest, and Democrats have an obligation (especially after their Russiagate rape) to ensures that suicide vest takes down the GOP rather than humanity itself.
The Green Party’s Role
Besides the tricky question of truth between Jay Inslee and Jim Kavanagh, I’ve left one other loose end hanging—a loose end only very astute readers or ardent Green Party supporters are apt to spot. Anyone paying close (or Green-Party-motivated) attention will notice that in highlighting the risk of Democrats watering the GND down beyond recognition, I supplied a link from the Green Party US website critiquing the Democratic Party version of the GND. So what gives? With my own harsh criticism of Democrats here, am I a closet Green? And if so, aren’t I a rather cowardly Green, failing to openly promote my party as bulwark against Democrats’ treacherous betrayal of the climate movement—the “rape” I’ve been documenting.
To be honest, I think everyone deeply concerned with the US and global common good ought to be, at minimum, a Green Party sympathizer. That’s what I consider myself; if I’m not an outright Green, it’s for strategic reasons related to the ugly US system that makes Greens a marginal third party, unelectable at the national level. Living in New York, a closed-primary state, I have no choice but to register Democrat if I wish to vote in primaries for the occasional party insurgent like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who does vast good by her national bully pulpit, even if she and similar progressives are marginalized by the Schumer-Pelosi thugs who control the party. My strategic priority (which I strongly believe it’s in Greens’ interest to share) is to change—indeed, radicalize—the national conversation. Only a radicalized national conversation—and there’s no better incentive for radicalizing it than humanity’s climate emergency—offers any hope of Americans thinking outside the duopoly box and embracing the Green Party.
So being a Green is one thing; being an effective Green is quite another. Given the steep uphill odds, I’d say being an effective Green requires actual moral heroism. The amount of commitment needed is actually staggering, since an effective Green must not only do the hard work of party-building (especially hard if you’re a marginal third party), but also seek out and participate in movements that radicalize the national conversation. Such, right now, is the climate movement, an undeniably righteous cause rooted in harsh realities that can no longer be ignored. Given their innately more radical viewpoint, Greens are ideal subjects for protecting the climate movement from suicidal political shallowness—like not realizing Democrats have done it grievous, irreparable harm via Russiagate.
Promoting climate movement outrage against Democrats for their Russiagate rape would surely help radicalize the national conversation in ways favorable to Green Party prospects. I’m hoping many Greens will find that a compelling reason to widely share this sympathizer’s article. We must establish a “climate of opinion” where it no longer demands heroism to be an effective Green.
Time for Public Climate Movement Outrage
Never expect a climate warrior to like Inslee to fare well in a Russiagate party obviously at war with talking about climate. Nancy Pelosi’s hostility to a Green New Deal, and Tom Perez’s entrenched opposition to a climate-specific debate, should tell climate activists everything we need to know about Democrats’ revulsion to serious climate action. A revulsion clearly reflected in—and perhaps even consciously motivating—the Democrats’ Russiagate-based gang rape of the climate movement. In a sense, Russiagate was both the coma-inducing drug permitting the rape and the act of rape itself. While obliterating public awareness of Trump’s unprecedented climate crimes, it actively promoted policies savagely detrimental to the climate cause itself: frightfully expensive military buildup, both nuclear and conventional (wasting desperately needed infrastructure and just-transition funding); a ramping up of fossil fuel use by the conventional military; erosion of trust with a petrostate whose cooperation is desperately needed; and positioning Trump as victim of an unjustified witch hunt, likely giving him free rein to stoke a raging climate fire for four additional, irredeemable years—with impeachment in severe disrepute and off the table.
With this level of analysis and outrage, I am amazed the author dismisses Greens as `unelectable´ As a voter of integrity, you have no other choice. when I hear that impossible´ or ridiculous dismissal, I hear echoes of programming, pounding home the created reality that we have no choice. Its just that, a program we need to erase. Independents outnumber either democrats or republicans now. A candidate like Gabbard, who appeals to both Libertarians, Greens, Some dems, some repubs, and many simply moral human beings, could take it this time. But you need to believe it. You need to make the path with your footsteps. You need to stop looking to vile TV propaganda, and the perverted fourth estate for signals about what are issues, or what we can say about this or that. Don’t let them corral your mind. Ride the swell, waves are coming that are very powerful. We need to stop querulous whining and blaming. Surf it, and believe! We can do better.
Also, if you want to know why the environment is a dead letter with both dying parties, read Chan Thomas, watch Thunderbolt Project and Suspicious Observers. The science is coming out. A cataclysm is coming, as it does every 10 thousand years or so. When our planet crosses through the galactic magnetic sheath, the outer core liquifies, the poles slip down to midlatitude due to the weight of their ice caps, and the new poles will be at the Bay of Bengal and off Peru. Not much has survived past polar shifts. Maybe 1% of all life forms. That’s why all the action has been building underground. That’s why the looting, so much makes sense in view of this. Some say we have 27 years. Who knows? The poles are accelerating, the magnetic sheild is down 35%
OK, I´ll take my tinfoil hat off now. Have a nice day. Carpe diem.
I can control only my own behavior; my sole vote for Greens (I DID make a protest vote for Jill Stein in 2016) doesn’t make a damn bit of difference in a national election.
Of course, as an activist writer I have prospects of making a bigger difference via my writings–something I’m obviously trying to do here. But it’s still a question of the type of influence I can have on multitudes of voters. Here one has to make a best guesstimate of where it’s most profitable to spend one’s energy. I calculate I have far better prospects of improving things by disgusting the climate movement–itself a MUCH stronger influence on public opinion than the Green Party–with Democrats than writing directly on behalf of the Green Party.
As I emphasized to Kevin Zeese in sending him this article, AOC and the Sunrise Movement raised the Green New Deal’s profile more in a few hours of protest at Nancy Pelosi’s office than the Green Party did in YEARS of advocacy for it. That’s NOT a slam against Greens, only recognition of the fact that powerful political movements–and the climate movement is understandably the most powerful we have at present–have far more power to influence public opinion overnight than marginal third parties deliberately repressed by the establishment. The trick is to get the climate movement to challenge Democrats in ways that will publicly expose Democrats’ hypocrisy and resistance to climate action. To me, asking for a climate debate is good, but hardly challenging enough; Dems might calculate they can afford conceding a debate, since corporate moderators will render it almost meaningless. But getting the climate movement to demand Trump’s climate-based impeachment–as I do in my piece–would publicly expose how unserious Dems are about climate. Greens and climate radicals already might know, but most of the public–including most climate activists–are essentially clueless. That’s why Greens need to raise their consciousness if they wish to improve their party’s own prospects.
And, AOC wouild not have known of the Green New Deal if it had not been for 10 years of advocacy by the Green Party. Movements have different phases. AOC came along at a different stage of development than the Green Party did with the Green New Deal.
The same is true for single payer healthcare.. Nader was the first to bring it up in a recent presidential election, He did so when he ran as a Green Party nominee in 2000. Sanders brought it up in 2016 but that was a different era, after the inadequate ACA.
Now both the Green New Deal and Medicare for All are litmus test issues for the Democratic Party. This is how third parties have affected the diretion of the country since the Civil War. Many of the msot important transformative police changes that have occurred stated in third party candidates showing they were viable issues in an election. Of course, the roots are always pre-electoral in the work of political movements. That work is still more important than elections as people power impacts everyone in office if it is strategic and mobilized.
I don’t think of my vote for Green Party candidates as a protest vote. I see them as voting for what I believe in. The wasted vote is voting for what you don’t beieve in. Eugene Debs said it best: “I’d rather vote for what I want and not get it, then vote for what I don’t want and get it.” Too many voters do the latter, especially when they are controlled by fear of the other party. Fear manipulation is very powerful and will be especially powerful in the Anybody But Trump 2020 election.
Living in safe blue NY State, it doesn’t matter who I personally vote for.; the Democrat nominee will win my state’s electoral votes.
But for climate activists like me, another four years of Trump is the worst imaginable outcome. Four more years of Trump’s climate policy will virtually guarantee (if we haven’t guaranteed it already) that the death and refugee totals due to climate will dwarf those of both world wars, the Holocaust, and Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot combined. So if Trump is reelected, all we can hope for is massive street revolt, Extinction Rebellion style. Since I doubt that will happen on a large enough scale, I think we’ll just have to accept that the biggest genocide in human history is on its way.
It’s hard to get enthusiastic about organizing for Greens–or any other party–when facing such a grim prospect.
I am not very impressed with this piece and its weak metaphor. Especially with the conclusion, that what the climate movement in the US needs to do is spread this essay around, and that if the climate movement doesn’t start acting like Russiagate was a rape, it’s time to–WHAT?!–abandon the US climate movement. This is nuts, insisting that the author’s approach is the only acceptable one and if others disagree then we should just give up–because abandoning the US climate movement means giving up, the global climate movement desperately needs US activists to succeed. So while Walker is right that Russiagate was counterproductive bullshit, right that the DP leadership can’t be trusted, right that the stupidity of Russiagate is likely to hand another four disastrous years to Trump et al, his metaphor is not effective.
You don’t think that handing another four years to climate-incendiary Trump is tantamount to rape of the climate movement!!?? If not, I’m not sure what other metaphor of IRREPARABLE damage you’d find appropriate. Obviously, if I said MURDER of the climate movement, there’d be no room for movement outrage at all, since the dead neither feel outrage nor join political movements (among their MANY shortcomings!). So pray tell, what superior outrage-provoking metaphor would you have supplied?
Let’s go further. Whatever metaphor we choose, the climate movement acting with the outrage of a party grievously wronged by Russiagate makes a REAL difference for action. Not realizing how much Russiagate has crippled the climate cause has deprived the climate movement of HUGE leverage, substituting servile begging for righteously outraged demanding. Consider the climate debate. Instead of saying, “PLEASE give us (any old) climate debate,” Sunrise et. al. could be saying, “You’ve colluded in Trump’s climate genocide, and we’re going to go on saying that loudly and endlessly until you give us the climate debate we DEMAND. Here’s our list of acceptable moderators.”
Obama proudly told Texas oil men that it was him who made the US number one in oil and gas production. He laid in thousands of miles of fossil fuel infrastructure. I guess with your metaphor, he also raped the planet. He just did not do it with Russiagate — well neither did Trump, Russiagate was a Demcoratic creation.
And, if Dems lose to Trump again, we’ll probably have Chinagate to blame it on — in addition to those of us who vote for what we believe in by voting Green.
I think you realize that I’m no Obama fan and found his “all of the above” energy policy dismally inadequate. But Obama didn’t design his whole energy and climate policy around aggressively attacking climate science, and he put us in–rather than pulled us out of–the Paris climate accord. Granted, that accord had little real substance, but at least it was a framework for potential global climate cooperation. Trump wishes to cooperate only with fossil fuel Visigoths.
And, the Democratic front runner, Joe Biden, is already a climate criminal. So, should he be supported if he is the nominee?
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Obama stopped the Copenhagen summit from being successful. China was negotiating with other nations to put in place mandatory reductions in carbon emissions. He and Hillary barged in and stopped them. In Paris, it was the US that stopped mandatory reductions.
And, Obama put in place policies through his FERC appointments that resulted in a massive build-out of fossil fuel energy infrastructure and fracking.
So, while Obama did not say he did not believe the climate science, he did everything the science said should not be done. Which is worse, believing the science and ignoring it, or not believing the science and doing the wrong thing?
We don’t know who the Dem nominee is going to be but the DNC reversed itself and is taking fossil fuel energy contributions, Pelosi refused to set up a Green New Deal Committee. and the House Climate Committee has no power.
I’m not sure why you think the Dems will be better? Their history and current actions show we have a two-party problem when it comes to climate. That is the reality. It may be a difficult reality for people stuck inside the two parties to face. Voting for either Wall Street Party is bad news for the environment and for many issues.
Here’s my metaphor: I think I’ll steal and repurpose one I heard during the Teach-in in Seattle just prior to the WTO “Battle in ’99: We’re on a bus, the driver is drunk, we keep careening out of control. The passengers need to stop being so passive and drag the drunk out of the driver’s seat, put someone else in there, and save the day. Okay, but in this case, there is another driver on the bus, who isn’t drunk, and passengers are saying, “you’ve got to take over, this guy’s dangerously incompetent!” And what the alternate driver does instead is play an exciting movie from the 1950s called the Red Menace to distract the passengers. Many of the passengers are so caught up in the silly movie that they forget about the danger but that doesn’t make it any less.
To step away from the metaphor question, I have to mention that the Russiagate bullshit isn’t entirely something thrust at the public by the Democratic Party insiders–a whole lot of liberals totally ate it up. Separately there is the problem that something close to half the public is happy with Trump and climate denial. You can’t call it rape when the victim is so willing. Although maybe that confuses the metaphor since I presume the victim is supposed to be liberals/Democrats/people concerned about climate…but it IS a problem that we’re a minority of the public. Quite true that we made a mistake if we looked to the Dems to do something.
First reaction: too complicated–how do you make that a headline or soundbite conveying outrage?
Further reaction: the Red Menace movie-showing driver isn’t a striking image of something morally culpable and repulsive. My rape-under-drug-influence metaphor economically conveys BOTH annulling of attention AND moral culpability.
Finally, note that my choice of “rape” victim is very precise: the climate movement. While liberals ARE willing victims of Democrats bullshit–and so, as you correctly say, NOT rape victims, being a climate activist at least implies not being a standard liberal and therefore hunky-dory with whatever the Dem establishment does. Feeling special activism on behalf of climate is needed implies that NEITHER party is doing its job. Not being standard Dembot liberals, climate activists CAN be Democrat rape victims.
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