Next Steps

The same week brought “the Green New Deal,” further indications that Donald Trump will be impeached, and scientific evidence that the pace of catastrophic climate change has increased. Over the next two years, given these troubling times, what steps should we take to maintain our sanity?

(Here’s the outline of the “Green New Deal” released by Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (https://www.npr.org/2019/02/07/691997301/rep-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-releases-green-new-deal-outline).)

1. Insist that the U.S. judicial process plays out and that Donald Trump and his corrupt associates are brought to justice.  Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation — into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — and his report should be made public.

Wired reports that there are at least 17 separate investigations into Trump-Russia relationships (https://www.wired.com/story/mueller-investigation-trump-russia-complete-guide/ ).  All of these should be brought to conclusion.

If Trump tries to interfere in any of these investigations, his intrusion should trigger impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives.

Citizens should demand accountability for Donald Trump.

(By the way, we should also insist that the Federal government do much more to stop Russian interference in our elections.)

2.  Make sure that the blue wave continues into 2020; that Democrats win the Presidency and control of both houses of Congress.  The Democrats have fielded a strong contingents of presidential candidates (see my February 1st article, “Top Ten Democratic Presidential Candidates.”)   Early polls indicate that any of them could defeat Trump.  Nonetheless, we’ve all learned not to underestimate Trump; Democrats need to do everything possible to prevent him from doing more damage to the United States.

At the moment, Democrats occupy 235 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives — Republicans have 197 seats and 3 are vacant.  Dems have to work hard to maintain their advantage in the House.

Republicans occupy 53 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate.  22 of their seats are up for reelection in 2020 — versus 12 for Democrats.  The most vulnerable Republican Senators are: Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colorado) and Martha McSally (Arizona).  (The most vulnerable Democrat is Doug Jones (Alabama).)  Potentially vulnerable Republican Senators are John Cornyn (TX), Joni Ernst (IA), Lindsey Graham (SC), Pat Roberts (KS) — who is retiring, David Perdue (GA), and Thom Tillis (NC).  Democrats must work hard and win a Senate majority.

Trump has already started campaigning for reelection.  He’s making no attempt to reach outside his base — about 40 percent of the electorate (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/ ).  Trump is planning to inflame his base by touting false accomplishments — such as his claim that construction of his “wall” has already started [“Finish the wall”] — and dire warnings about Democrats — such as, “they want open borders.”

At the same time, Trump will try to suppress the vote of Independents and wavering Democrats by claiming that the Democratic presidential candidate is weak and “a socialist.”  (Republicans, in general, will try to suppress the vote by tactics such as selective voter “purges.”)

3. Reach out to Trump voters.  At some time in the near future, hopefully 2020, Democrats will regain control of the government.  But before we can repair the damage that Trump, and his Republican collaborators have wrought, we need to reach out to Trump supporters — those who view Donald as their last chance to get a shot at the American dream — and convince them that we are their allies.

If adequately explained, the new Democratic agenda, with its emphasis on healthcare, education, jobs, and infrastructure, should go a long way towards healing the breech between Democrats and Trump loyalists.  Nonetheless, Democrats must take extraordinary steps to quench the anger and hate that Trump has fed.

Reaching out to Trump voters is the right step, on moral grounds, but it’s also a practical reality: to deal with climate change, there’s an extraordinary amount of work that needs to be done and Americans have to work together.  No one should minimize what a daunting task this will be.  While a strong majority of Americans believe that climate change is an urgent problem that must be dealt with ( https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/consensus-emerges-climate-change-debate-n950646) only 15 percent of Republicans agree.  (In other words, most Trump voters say they are not worried about climate change.)

4. Support the Green New Deal.  As I write this, my travel plans have been disrupted by torrential rains and flooding in Northern California.  The pace of global climate change has increased; it’s time to declare a “national emergency” to deal with this reality.

The Green New Deal is the latest attempt to get the U.S. government to doing something about climate change.  (https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/14/politics/green-new-deal-proposal-breakdown/index.html )  The bill references the Roosevelt era, “the Federal Government-led mobilizations during World War II and the New Deal;” it’s a resolution that insists we mobilize now.

The Green New Deal resolution has a lot in it but what jumps out is the call for a “10-year national mobilization” with several key objectives:

  •  “Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.”  That is, eliminating our dependence on fossil fuel in 10 years.
  • “Upgrading all existing buildings” in the country for energy efficiency.
  • Working with farmers “to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions … as much as is technologically feasible.”
  • “Overhauling transportation systems” to reduce emissions — including expanding electric car manufacturing, building “charging stations everywhere,” and expanding high-speed rail to “a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”
  •  A guaranteed job “with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security” for every American.  While this may appear to be a gratuitous add-on, the notion of a guaranteed job makes sense in light of the scope of the national mobilization, which will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

This is not a drill.  We’re in the midst of a national emergency and we need to work together to deal with these dire circumstances.