The race for the presidential election in 2020 is already in full swing. Many American voters, and certainly all of my readers, are concerned with the protection of the environment. Can they choose a candidate that will deliver the kind of radical change that we need to see in order to avoid some of the worst effects of the warming climate and the rapid degradation of Earths ecosystems?
Is any Democrat good enough?
The people who will vote on the primary election of the Democratic party are going to have a huge influence not only on US politics, but arguably, on the health of the entire planet. There are still around 20 candidates for the Democratic nomination and, to a certain extent, they all claim to be concerned with climate change. It seems like it doesn’t really matter who will get the nomination as long as they manage to defeat Trump, but I believe that this really isn’t the case. Even when we look at the candidates who claim to support the Green New Deal proposal, there is a huge difference. In my opinion, there is only one candidate who has a chance of delivering actual results on any of their serious policy proposals, including climate change, and that’s Bernie Sanders.
Since 2016, Bernie Sanders managed to move pretty much the whole Democratic Party to the left, at least when we look at the rhetoric coming from many of the candidates. There is still one huge distinction between them and Bernie. It’s easy for a candidate to claim that they support socialized medicine, free college or a massive green shift in the economy, if they know that there is no chance of any of this ever happening. The president can’t do any of these reforms on their own, and the political climate in Washington DC is not favorable to any radical reform that would disturb the financial interests of the big donors. For example, when I hear that Kamala Harris is supporting the Green New Deal and Medicare for all, I don’t get the same reaction when I hear Bernie defend these policies, and there is a good reason for this which is deeper than their different track records.
We need a revolution
Bernie has a very bold and honest message about how he will deliver on his promises. He has openly admitted that electing him as president is not going to be enough and that any of these policies will not magically become the law of the land simply by virtue of his successful election. Bernie is not shy to speak about the oligarch class that is pulling the strings of US politics. He calls for a political revolution, and he knows that as president he can embolden people to demand the change they so urgently need.
“When I talk about a political revolution, what I am referring to is the need to do more than just win the next election. It’s about creating a situation where we are involving millions of people in the process who are not now involved, and changing the nature of media so they are talking about issues that reflect the needs and the pains that so many of our people are currently feeling. A campaign has got to be much more than just getting votes and getting elected. It has got to be helping to educate people, organize people. If we can do that, we can change the dynamic of politics for years and years to come. If 80 to 90 percent of the people in this country vote, if they know what the issues are (and make demands based on that knowledge), Washington and Congress will look very, very different from the Congress currently dominated by big money and dealing only with the issues that big money wants them to deal with.” – Bernie Sanders,
This fundamental difference between him and the other candidates makes him the most likely to achieve something substantial on the environmental front. The lobbyists of the extractive industries are extremely influential, they are not going to allow any radical legislation to see the day. The same is true for the insurance companies, banks, pharmaceutical companies etc. If US citizens manage to elect somebody who is not afraid to challenge the oligarchs, he might embolden enough people to get matters in their own hands and demand real and radical change. In the context of climate change this is extremely important. If we hope to have any chance of avoiding some of the worst case scenarios we need to take effective and bold action. I don’t believe that any other of the Democratic candidates has a chance of delivering this level of change to the American political system. Actions speak louder than words, and Bernie has shown time and again that he is not afraid to challenge some of the most powerful institutions and private interests in the US.
I don’t believe that Bernie is THE perfect candidate, that will solve all of the environmental issues. In fact, if he gets elected, I wouldn’t wait a day to start criticizing him for his lack of urgent action, but I think that when people organize and demand action, he is more likely to listen than any other candidate who is running for president. I’m writing this as an EU citizen and I’m well aware that the election of Bernie Sanders would have a big positive impact on the policy on the other side of the Atlantic, and would hopefully inspire us Europeans to start our own political revolution against the corporate oligarchy.
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Steve the Bartender