By Paige Wolf
Everyone can agree that this is a presidential election like no other. And with both the fight for the highest office and contentious down ballot races for control of congress, voting is absolutely essential.
As parents, nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our children. That is why my top priority is voting in elected officials who will do everything in their power to slow climate change, pursue clean energy resources, protect our food and water system, and make sure there are regulations in place for consumer product safety.
However, there is one candidate in this presidential race who stands firmly against progress on these issues, calling for the ultimate free market economy with no regulation nor concern for consequences.
Donald Trump is the first major presidential candidate to wholly deny the mere existence of global warming, an extreme stance not even shared by some of the most conservative politicians.
On Nov. 6, 2012, Donald Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” On Jan. 25, 2014, he tweeted, “NBC News just called it the great freeze — coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?”
When questioned by the press in event the most recent months, he has stood firmly by these statements. Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that he would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency.
These extreme views run counter to the beliefs of 70% of Americans who are concerned about climate change, not to mention 99.5% of climate scientists.
This runs polar opposite of the most progressive democratic platform in history, with a strong stance on mitigating climate change and a specific plan to get 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade.
These vast differences are crucial at a time when there is so much on the table.
In August 2015, President Obama along with the Environmental Protection Agency announced the Clean Power Plan, the nation’s most ambitious legislation to combat global warming. The Clean Power Plan would set a national limit on carbon pollution produced from power plants and strengthen the trend of clean energy by setting goals for states to cut their carbon pollution. The plan could potentially reduce the pollutants that contribute to smog and soot by 25 percent, leading to net climate and health benefits of an estimated $25 billion to $45 billion per year in 2030. Opposition from some states led to a stalemate in Supreme Court. Due to a split vote in the Court, which now holds a vacant seat, the plan will remain in limbo until after the next presidential election.
After 40 years of lobbying, advocacy, and debate among legislators, the final Toxic Substances Control Act reform bill was passed in June 2016. This long-fought-for TSCA reform is more limited than environmental and health advocates had hoped for, but it is still meaningful in its protection and a step in the right direction.
Though, with the wrong hands at the wheel of democracy, these regulations could be overturned along with all the other protections hard won by health and environmental advocates. And we haven’t made nearly enough progress as it is, with lead in tap water systems, fracking-linked earthquakes in Oklahoma, and skyrocketing asthma, allergy, autism, and cancer rates linked to pollution, toxin exposure, and the proliferation of unsafe chemicals in our food system.
In all fairness, there are many progressive democrats who do not see Clinton as strong enough on environmental issues, calling into question her history of supporting fracking in the past. As someone who supported Sanders in the primary, I can understand the hesitation. However, her recent statements and the official platform of the Democratic Party prioritize ending these unsafe natural gas extractions with meaningful goals and parameters. And whether we like it or not, there are only two possible realistic outcomes for the next president of the United States – and every vote counts.
There are many former democrats who staunchly refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton. Some are voting third party and some refuse to vote at all. I agree that we do need viable third party candidates. However, there is simply not a reasonable third party presidential alternative for 2016. Green Party candidate Jill Stein lacks foreign policy experience and I believe she is simply unqualified to be Commander in Chief. Libertarian Gary Johnson applies his anti-regulation views by supporting the use of fossil fuels and “keeping an open mind on fracking.”
That said, we do need to be electing more third party candidates from the ground up. There have been some excellent third party candidates voted into office in smaller elections throughout the country – but not enough. Let’s take a cue from Bernie Sanders to fight for those progressive third-party candidates in our state and city elections – even congress should a viable candidate arise.
Staying home is not an option. Women have fought to hard for the right to vote and we must exercise that right. Hopefully you agree with me that fighting for a safe environment with clean air and water is a key priority. And, if you do, you can take advantage of the brilliant new Carpool2Vote service, a free rideshare app that introduces volunteer drivers to voters needing a ride to the polls.
No issue is more imperative than making sure we have a planet to live on – clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe, and products that won’t cause illness. I hope you will join me Tuesday, November 8, by foot, by bike, by train, or by carpool. Just get there however you can!
Paige is the author of Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt and the owner of Paige Wolf Media and Public Relations, a B Corporation certified eco-friendly PR firm focused on sustainable clientele. Visit www.spitthatoutthebook.com for her blog on making green living practical, manageable, and affordable.