A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Monday, September 14, 2020

Democracy, 2020

I usually remain relatively quiet about political issues on Facebook.  In part, this is because when I joined Facebook (oh so long ago) I did so in order to feel personally connected to friends whom I see all too rarely, not to find a broad platform for my political views.  It’s also because there are many valid reasons for current and continual anger that don't touch me as much as they touch others, due to disparities and inequalities in our society. Thus, I need to speak less and listen more. Plus, as we all know, diving into political threads – or the comments section on pretty much anything -- can lead to despair and madness.  But I also know that at a certain point, silence makes me disengaged and complicit. 

Figuring out where and when to raise my voice is hard.  I could go so, so far into the weeds on… well, on practically everything.  Immigration?  Yeah, none of my grandparents were born in America.  Healthcare, policing, prisons, militarization?  We desperately need to take care of one another, and to learn from our own past, and from the rest of the world.  Racism, sexism, homophobia?  We have… so far to go. Wealth inequities, screwed up economic incentives, and environmental and social externalities that drive us ever further over a cliff?  Ugh.  Capitalism is a mess.

I’ve occasionally engaged, when I feel that I have direct standing in a discussion.  I’ve written about climate change, because I work as a climate scientist.  I’ve tried to apply my own personal perspective to larger issues, as I did in a blog post that linked loving ones country (while also fervently wanting to make it a better country) with the same feelings about ones children -- patriotism as parenting, if you will.  I’ve tried, ineptly, to talk about racism, sexism, immigration, the dismissal of science, the death of my own father from a tragically politicized disease that we know as COVID-19, and my own failings with regard to making any of this any better.

There’s too much to say, and I find myself overwhelmed and immobilized.  I suspect I’m not the only one.  My friends seem to be divided between those who say very little, and those who never stop saying.  I get it.  But for now, I’m going to say… just this one thing.

This November – this tumultuous and often terrible autumn, in a tumultuous and often terrible year, in a tumultuous and often terrible world -- I plan to vote.  I plan to vote for Grier Hopkins and Marna Sanford to represent me in Juneau.  I plan to vote for Alyse Galvin and Al Gross to represent me in DC.  And I plan to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to represent our nation to the rest of the world.  I will be casting these votes with all my heart.  I will also entreat everyone else I know – and anyone else I don’t know -- to do the same.  I will also beg everyone to do their best to flip the Senate out of its current toxic-majority condition, and to keep the House from slipping in a toxic direction.  Vote.  Please vote.  Bring others.  Persuade others.  Vote.

I entreat this for many, many reasons. I can’t possibly enumerate all of them here.  But the key point is that those reasons aren't abstract or “political” or “partisan”. Those reasons are real humans, who are suffering. They are real elements of the natural world, which once lost cannot be regained.

Do I think that all Democrats are right all the time? No, of course not. Nor do I think that of Independents, such as Gross and Galvin.  Do I think that Biden or Harris agree with all my opinions, or would always adhere to the soundest science? No, I don't -- but I do think that they respect science, that they respect human rights, and that either of them would sign into law some amazing legislation that could make it through Congress, if we have decent people in Congress to create and pass that legislation.

Remember, the President doesn't make the laws. He or she merely needs to veto the bad stuff, refrain from vetoing the good stuff, and appoint sane and honest judges who do not undermine the good stuff for decades to come.

Would I make Biden dictator? Hell, no, but that's not an insult. I wouldn’t make Harris, Gross, Galvin, Sanford, or Hopkins dictator, either.  There is no human being on the planet who agrees with me on everything, and even if there were, I would not give that person absolute power.

Democracy is messy. It involves compromises. It doesn't change as fast as it should. American democracy needs revamping in some deep, painful, and fundamental ways that involve widespread social change, economic change, and educational change -- as well as passing a lot of better laws, regulations, funding decisions, etc.

I agree that some change needs to occur "outside the system". That's the part we make by marching, by protesting, by writing, by educating ourselves and one another, by raising our voices, by having each others' backs and recognizing our joint humanity. But some change also needs to occur "within the system". That's the part we make by running for office, supporting good candidates, and simply... voting.

I am a scientist. I will keep working to try to figure out what might happen to us, if we don't clean up our act on climate change issues, and how we can adapt to the changes we've already wrought. I'll keep fighting. I'll keep bugging politicians about science, using whatever privilege, leverage, or status I have to do so. And I'll keep voting.

Vote.  Please vote.  Bring others.  Persuade others.  Vote.


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