Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Environmental Voters May Hold the Balance of Power

Environmentally concerned citizens could play a pivotal role in the midterm elections of 2018.  There is so much at stake in these elections not the least of which are efforts to check the erosion of environmental protections and the neglect of climate action.

On November 6th voters will decide the outcome in 435 House seats, 34 Senate seats and 36 Governors races.

This election is critically important for the future of the nation and the health of the planet. In the wake of the most recent UN climate report we are forced to concede that we are in need of urgent action if we are to avoid tipping points from which we may not be able to recover.

Voter turnout is essential to what is being called the big blue wave. To encourage people to vote the NRDC Action Fund launched a campaign called the Green Wave 2018. This voter engagement campaign is designed to mobilize environmentally conscious voters so that they can help elect a Congress that will stand up to President Trump and his anti-environment agenda.= Part of this campaign involves pledging to vote to stop Trump's assault on the planet. Another part of this pledge involves opposing candidates who stand with big polluters over their own constituents. The NRDC's Rhea Suh describes the Green Wave as being about, "common-sense environmental values: healthy families, clean air and water, healthy food, clean energy, and a strong economy that works for everyone."

Environmental Voters Project (EVP) is an organization that acts "as a pipeline, pushing environmentalists into the electoral process." Their goal is to "build an army of environmental super voters".  EVP encourage voting by providing behavioral nudges and encouraging people to sign an environmental voters pledge. Initial data appears to indicate that the EVP's approach has been able to increase voter turn.

Other organizations are also involved with increasing the number of environmentally concerned voters that make their way to the ballot box. As explained by EcoAmerica elections are important and getting out to vote in this election could make a difference for our future. As they say on their website:
"Elections are one of the great opportunities that we as Americans have to steer the trajectory of climate action. The choice is whether we stay home on election day, and let others choose that future, or if we vote to make a difference for the health and wellbeing of our families, our children, and future generations."
If this green wave votes they could make all the difference. As reviewed in a Think Progress article, EVP data suggests that there are 15.8 million "super-environmentalists" who did not vote in the 2014 midterm elections and 10.1 million who did not vote in the 2016 presidential elections.  Had these people voted it could have altered the outcome.  

Many of these organizations are very careful to focus on issues rather than identify with one party over another. However, the truth is voters have a stark choice to make without much nuance. For environmental voters Republicans are the problem and removing them from power is the solution. The voting record of the vast majority of Republican legislators is stridently anti-environment and antithetical to climate action.

No matter where you live electing Democrats is an essential part of checking the Trump administration's power. Trump's profoundly flawed leadership, his contempt for science and the EPA's ongoing orgy of radical deregulation are a danger to the future of the nation and the health and well being of Americans. 

Republicans have not only kept climate denial alive in the US, they are responsible for breaking Washington.  Environmental voters know the GOP protects the fossil fuel industry the same way it protects the NRA. They also know that Republicans have championed the extraction of fossil fuels in some of the most fragile wild-places in the US.  This includes the Arctic, national monuments and along the nation's coasts. This is incompatible with environmental stewardship and part of an insane energy agenda.  

People have other reasons to want to vote against Trump and his Republican minions. Some want to rebuke the politics of hate others are just fed up with all his lies.  Many are concerned about what Republicans will do to health care others are displeased with corporate tax cuts and the resultant deficit increases. Still others fear cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

We are seeing some evidence to suggest that global warming is giving some Republican voters reason to review their party affiliations. Both hurricanes and algal blooms may be helping voters in Trump country to acknowledge the climate crisis and the urgency of environmental voting. This is a view corroborated by a report by EcoAmerica which suggests that a majority of Americans would vote for a climate candidate. 

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