[Note: See my original Daily Kos post here.]
I’ll try to make this succinct so as not to harangue and detract from the point I want to make about last night’s democratic debate.
Over the past week we have heard some very shocking and disheartening news about the pace and nature of climate change. We were told that:
- Arctic sea ice has melted to its lowest level on record, declining a jaw-dropping 386,100 miles.
- According to leading climate scientists, climate change is “occurring far in advance of the worst-case scenario,” outstripping previous predictions “in the most horrible way.”
- “Catastrophic” climate change is now unavoidable. The now-inevitable changes caused by CO2 emissions will displace millions of humans and expose them to drought, hunger, flooding and infectious diseases, as well as cause the extinction of innumerable species.
See where this is going?
In last night’s Democratic debate, there were nearly TWO FULL HOURS of questions and answers.
– John Edwards was asked about how much he pays for a haircut.
– Mike Gravel was questioned about his personal bankruptcy.
– All the candidates were asked for their favorite bible verse.
– All the candidates were asked whether they prefer the Red Sox or the Yankees.
And yet, in TWO FULL HOURS of Q&A, there was not a single question on climate change. Not one.
And what’s worse?
There was not one comment from any of the “leading” candidates on global warming. (For the record, both Dodd and Kucinich attempted to mention carbon reduction when they were asked about nuclear power plants, but both were quickly cut off by Tim Russert.)
My friends, I’m utterly speechless.
You see, I’m not surprised that a mainstream media that wants us to pay attention to O.J. Simpson and Britney Spears would chose not to expend time on the genocide in Darfur. Or the turmoil in Myanmar. Or the devastation and inaction in New Orleans. Or the news that there are three blacks or latinos in jail for every one in college. Or even the plummeting dollar and increasingly probable recession next year.
But climate change, as we now incontrovertibly know, is the defining moral crisis of our time. The facts are in, and we know that our actions today will displace and eventually kill millions tomorrow. Our children will be tomorrow’s Katrina victims.
I am beyond outraged, not only at the media’s willful ignorance of this issue, but also at the fact that our own candidates refuse to evangelize and prepare the country for action on a looming crisis that will wreck the future of untold millions.
To the Democratic candidates: Your lack of leadership disgusts me. You seek to lead the free world in 15 months, yet you lack both the moral concern and fortitude to force this issue and declare that the climate crisis is more important than haircuts and baseball teams.
This is the corporate media’s game, but it requires your obedience to work. And time and again, you pander in the hopes of favorable mention during the post-debate spin, and confine your advocacy on the gravest issues to interest-group checklists posted within the bowels of your web sites.
You lack the leadership that is so sorely needed in this age. You lack audacity.
If you cannot (read: will not) muster the courage to consistently and loudly speak out on this slow-motion train wreck, why should I believe you will mobilize American society once in office?
If you cannot (read: will not) end the disastrous Iraq occupation by 2013, why should I believe you will expend the political capital to ensure the transformation needed to address begins by 2012? Even if it is your only accomplishment. Even if it means no universal healthcare. Raising taxes. Banning products and substances at a cost of more American jobs. Forcing fuel standards that put American car makers at a competitive disadvantage. Yes — even if it means approval ratings of 29%.
When our grandchildren wonder how such a technologically advanced society was unable (read: unwilling) to reorder itself to ensure its own survival and prosperity, we will think back to nights like last night. And we will think about how hard you, our prospective “leaders,” tried to “look presidential,” to challenge yet not challenge, and to not sound “shrill,” while our corporations and governments placed mortgages on the spoils of your acquiescence.
I was prepared to open my wallet again for one of the leading candidates this week. No more. There is one person whom I believe can be this generation’s Winston Churchill, and he wasn’t on that stage last night.
They’ve had their chance. They have not led. He will.
And if he doesn’t? Well, as we’ve seen with our own eyes over the course of this campaign, we’re fucked.