Beto, Bernie, and 2020

Remember when we had a likable president? Those were the days, right? I voted for Obama, twice. And there were many things that the populace and media glossed over during his presidency. However, I never got the feeling the executive branch didn’t have a handle on things. Now, we have something else entirely. These last two years have been very strange.

Politics, right? Lots of people want to ignore it all. It’s exhausting. As we spent a few days in Galicia recently, the importance or pointlessness of politics came up in conversation. I vacillate between these points of view. Some days, I feel like ignoring it all, like many people do. If we paid less attention to these big egos who so desperately seek attention, wouldn’t things change?

Other days, I get a sense that the only real way to solve these big problems is through politics. It’s the twenty-first century and our industrialized society has left us with the responsibility of uniting to save our planet than at any other point of human history. I’m thinking an Independence Day scenario, where instead of aliens it’s CO2 emissions.

But if I internalize the second stance today, I need to throw my voice into the ether. Can we not elect another Barack Obama?

Branko Marcetic points out in his article for Jacobin about why Beto O’Rourke shouldn’t run for president:

If the Democratic Party ever wants to actually wield national power, instead of simply enacting change through easily repealable executive orders, then it has to win governorships, congressional seats, statehouses, and more all over the country.

We can’t just elect a young, telegenic American. There needs to be a reawakening to ideology and big ideas like a Green New Deal, Medicaid for All, and free tuition. Kate Aronoff’s article in the Intercept on what a Green New Deal would be like really encapsulates this vision.

So, Bernie? Honestly, I don’t know. He’s older, but there aren’t many potential Democratic candidates that are so single-mindedly focused on economic issues concerning the country.

The United States can sink or swim after the rampant corruption of the Trump presidency. Let’s get ourselves ready for the future.

Greta Thunberg’s Speech at COP24

Fifteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland:

But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference. And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few. The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children, maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act. You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes. Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself. We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.

This simultaneously saddens me (since generations to follow have inherited our mess) and gives me hope for us to wake up, see this inexorable catastrophe that we are heading toward, and change our behaviors and politics.