Is the Democratic Party Leadership Afraid to Have a Serious Debate on the Climate Crisis?

by on August 19, 2019 · 5 comments

in Environment, Under the Perfect Sun

Will Dems Even Be Allowed Have a Debate on the Crisis in the Midst of the Sixth Extinction?

By Jim Miller

It’s no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention that the Trump administration’s environmental policy is an out-of-control death train roaring down the tracks toward ecocide.  The latest bit of insanity hit last week when the administration announced that it was significantly weakening the Endangered Species Act in the wake of the UN report last May warning that up to one million plant and animal species were at risk of extinction.

As the New York Times Editorial Board wrote of this decision:

Now comes what amounts to a thumb in the eye from the Trump administration: The Interior Department announced a set of rules on Monday that, far from enlarging protections, will weaken how the nation’s most important conservation law, the Endangered Species Act, is applied. The proposed changes would make it harder to shield fragile species not only from commercial development like logging and oil and gas drilling, but also from the multiple threats posed by climate change. Specifically, the rules would complicate the task of getting species listed as threatened or endangered in the first place, and would reduce the habitat judged necessary for their survival.

Indeed, nothing underlines the fiddling while Rome burns feeling more than the juxtaposition of the Trump vs. Democrats circus with the headlines of the last few weeks, not just about the horrific mass shootings, but also the stories about the looming threat of a water crisis for half of humanity, and the fact that scientists are now telling us that climate change is exposing us to “cascading risks” that are damaging the “ability of land to sustain humanity” if we don’t act decisively and rapidly.

This is serious business, but when I watch the debates and survey the media, I don’t see a serious discussion.  Even as the news becomes more and more dire, the issue fails to move beyond marginal status in the media and in the Democratic debates.  You’d think the party looking to unseat the climate-denier-in-chief would want to highlight his role in fueling the sixth extinction.  Instead, I read that the Democratic National Committee is trying to avoid a full debate on climate perhaps because they are afraid Trump will demonize them .   The future of humanity is in the balance, but in the battle between political calculation and moral clarity, it appears calculation may be winning.

Political timidity, however, is a stinky cologne and though most voters don’t pick candidates on ideological lines, they do sometimes sense when a person (or a Party in this case) is running scared or doesn’t seem like they believe in anything but are simply trying to say what they think polls the best in swing states.

It’s that kind of fecklessness that could lose not just the election, but the future itself if we let it.

Democratic voters deserve a full debate about the climate crisis, the Green New Deal, and our race toward extinction.  What’s not debatable is whether the future of life on earth is the most important issue we face.  Who could reasonably think it isn’t?

While the other side has been captured by fossil fuel interests and anti-science lunacy, the opposition party should show more wisdom and courage.  Democratic voters deserve to know what the candidates’ plans are to address the existential threats we face and need to see them pressed to make sure their proposed policies are commensurate with the scale and scope of the problem.  Evading a full debate on the most important issue of our time would amount to political cowardice of the worst sort.

The Democrats’ Summer of Fecklessness: Déjà vu All Over Again?

Nobody in the national corporate media captured the political mood of this summer better than Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone who, after observing the Democratic field mid-summer in Iowa, opined, “They’re gonna blow this again.”

Why?  Because that’s what the leaders of the Democratic party do.  As Taibbi observes, “The Democratic establishment chose Biden because he was the Plan B last time and the party apparently hasn’t come up with anything better since. Nothing says ‘We’re out of ideas’ quite like pulling a pushing-eighty ex-vice president off the bench to lead the most important race in the party’s history.”

Choosing this “safe” route, Taibbi rightly argues, is dangerous because it repeats the mistakes of 2016 by playing into the hands of Trump’s irrational but emotionally powerful use of fear and hatred:

“A core psychological appeal to destruction needs a profound response. Slogans won’t work. Poll-and-pander won’t work. True inspiration is the only way out.”

And thus far, the Democratic Party establishment types along with their echo chamber in the pages of the New York Times and Washington Post seem to think that re-running the Clinton playbook is the answer.  Swat down big ideas, mollify purple suburban voters, remind everyone how terrible Trump is, and hope folks want to return to “normal.”  To paraphrase a recent headline in the Washington Post, they think they can win by making the White House boring again.  Hence, Biden as our stumbling savior.

Make no mistake, if Biden emerges as the winner, I will surely vote for him.  He is a decent human being and has the great virtue of not being Trump.  Unfortunately, however, I fear Taibbi is correct when he sees potential disaster down that road:

Nobody will want to hear this, but Democrats are repeating the error. The sense of déjà vu is palpable. It might and should still work out, according to the polls. But a double catastrophe seems a lot less impossible than it did even a year ago. Lose to Donald Trump once, shame on the voters. Lose to him twice? It’s glue-factory time for the Democratic Party, and another black eye for America, which is fast turning its electoral system into a slapstick reality show.

And it’s not just watching the campaign with its speed dating-like debates that gives one this impression.  The Democrats’ response to Trump’s recycled red-baiting and racist attacks on the “the Squad” was embarrassing. It showed that the “moderates” were happy to use a kind of soft McCarthyism in their own ranks and only felt compelled to stand up for A.O.C and company when Trump’s over-the-top racism and xenophobia shamed them into it.  That was some weak sauce.

So too was the Democrats’ equally hapless reaction to the fact that Mueller’s long-awaited testimony failed to produce a silver bullet (despite years of breathless reporting by Rachel Maddow et al).  You could hear the air leaving the balloon slowly and comically.  Oh shit, we might just have to win the next election!  Sigh.

One doesn’t have to be an apologist for Trump to see that the never-ending obsession with the Russia issue to the exclusion of nearly everything else in Democratic circles has prevented them from ever really grokking the political reasons (outside of Russian interference) for their 2016 loss.  And those who don’t learn from history just might be doomed to repeat it.

These sorry spectacles along with the neoliberal pundits’ mass hysteria in the face of an emboldened progressive wing of the Democratic party (somebody please pour some cold water on Tom Friedman and his pals) make you wonder if maybe the Democrats really are afraid not just of Trump, but of their own shadows as well.  It’s not a good look.

Neither is the bumbling campaign of “Mr. Electable,” Joe Biden, who can’t seem to let a day go by without saying something stupid.  Biden doesn’t really look like he wants to be out there.  He appears to be in great need of a comfort animal of some kind.  Cue the chorus: “At least he’s not Sanders or Warren!”  Golf clap from the VIP section.

And all of this with polling from Fox News of all places that shows ALL of the top four Democratic frontrunners beating Trump (insert link:   Still, the “no we can’t” chorus insists that we have stay away from bold proposals to win.

Let’s hope it’s true that most voters will have long forgotten the summer of 2019 by the time we get to November 2020.  Or maybe we’ll get “lucky” and the economy will tank, sinking Trump’s already bad numbers even lower and making it virtually impossible for even a weak candidate to lose to him.  Perhaps then it will seem safe enough to support a candidate with policy ideas that really take on the moneyed interests that have hijacked our democracy and threaten our future.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks August 19, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Probably. Nobody wants to piss off their main campaign contributors and those wealthy corporate owners…oops pardon me, those generous contributors make their enormous profits from…where? Oil drives this civilization in every respect.

Question: has any wealthy Democrat lost money in their investment portfolio since Trump took office? Another probably not…

“+ all “alternative energy” itself is fossil-fuel-based. None of it could or did exist without fossil fuels. Solar panel themselves are made with metallurgical coal and quartz – both derived from blowing up mountains. The top beneficiaries of tax subsidies to promote solar? The Koch Bothers!;” from “Planet of the Humans” documentary that premiered at the gloriously community-restored State Theatre July 31st at the 15th Traverse City, MI Film Festival.

The head political cheeses didn’t learn a thing in the last debacle of an election. Obviously with Biden being the DNC leadership’s ridiculous choice. With the wealthy neoliberal Nancy Pelosi (net worth $123,000,000) running the show not much has actually changed since 2016. People didn’t want to vote for neoliberal Wall St. policies hence Trump who of course put in neoliberal policies anyway since billionaires are by nature neoliberal. And people won’t want to vote for Biden, either, another chip off the old block of neoliberal Democrat politics going nowhere.

So will anything be spoken of about catastrophic climate destabilization? Probably not, at least if the so-called ‘leadership’ has anything to say about it.

Big sigh. Damned if we do or don’t seems to be the real goal here. Either way it makes somebody richer no matter what.

Here’s an interesting take on NOT voting for president:



thequeenisalizard August 20, 2019 at 9:06 am

Old quote. “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”.
Kinda like what Republicans are trying to do right now isn’t it?


Hopper Moss August 20, 2019 at 9:36 am

Below is the list of apocalyptic predictions made in the past 50 years by global cooling/global warming/climate change/[and now] climate emergency alarmists that have come true:


Frank Gormlie August 20, 2019 at 10:40 am

Aha! Hopper Moss – you’re an actual climate-crisis-denier. Take your stance to people in Alaska and Iceland and Europe and not to mention the Pacific Islanders right now.


sealintheSelkirks August 21, 2019 at 7:06 am

Rather than climate-crisis-denier I tend to prefer the term anti-science. And I certainly am not going to bother reading the link to another bunch of debunked ideological claptrap that keeps being recycled by fossil fuel-subsidized ‘citizen groups.’ It is getting very tiresome to people who pay attention.

But I do find it somewhat humorous that people who are using 21st century technology invented by scientists to complain about science they don’t like by labeling them ‘alarmists.’ There’s something so ironic in that….

Can you imagine arguing the science with Andrew Glikson, Peter Wadhams, or Jem Bendell? You’d feel so freaking stupid that you’d be looking for a hole to hide in!

Hopper Moss, go read this site with 32 earth/ice/climate scientists and weep for the children:



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