Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The choice for 2016


Nothing is perfect. 

One of my most favorite bands recorded Pop and my most treasured film franchise brought us Jar Jar Binks.  Yet these blemishes do not detract from my overall enjoyment of U2 and Star Wars.  I embrace them for their preponderance of facets that do work.

This is much how I view presidential candidates and it is why I believe Hillary Clinton is the best choice for 2016.

Many of our more immediate issues will still press us in two years and the new president will have to face them from the get-go.  These range from immigration reform to tax cuts for the wealthy as well as the undoubtedly continuous efforts of the GOP to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  While these issues carry weight of their own, there is one that I believe stands far above the rest.  I believe that history will judge both the next president and the next set of congressional leaders by how they act on climate change.

It’s simple.  The scientific consensus is clear that there is more carbon in the atmosphere and that will cause temperatures to continue to rise.  As temperatures rise, so will sea levels.  A report issued last month from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts this change will result in a 25% drop in food crops worldwide.  Secretary of State John Kerry responded to the report by saying, “There are those who say we can't afford to act. But waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic.” 

I believe Hillary Clinton knows this.  At a Clinton Global Initiative University panel last month, she called for “mass movement” to address climate change and that the subject “is not some ancillary issue” but one that will affect the life and health of people everywhere.

All right, I’m certainly with her so far.  So where’s the imperfection?   Well, while Clinton has stated concern for the environment and climate change, it’s not entirely clear how this will translate into policy platforms for her (still hypothetical) campaign.  For example, as CNN’s Tim Miller points out, Clinton has yet to take a stance on the Keystone Pipeline...something her Department had jurisdiction over under Obama.  While she sees it as an issue, it is still difficult to determine just how much focus the threat of climate change will receive.

I can accept this ambiguity for two reasons.  

First of all, to do anything about climate change one must first get elected to office.  Hillary Clinton has the best chance of winning for the Democrats.  Her domestic experience as a Senator and her foreign relations experience as Secretary of State places her well beyond the crowd on either side of the aisle.  The most her GOP opponents will be able to muster are repeated bleats of “Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi” and a few weak accusations of obliquity from Rand Paul.  Which brings me to my second point: who do the Republicans have to offer in response and what actions do they intend to take on climate change?

My shirt tail answer is a shrug and a muttering of “not much” on both counts.  Chris Christie might have an interest, seeing as how his state was struck by a massive hurricane not so long ago and environmental changes make such “superstorms” more likely, but he has his own baggage to combat...baggage the size of a bridge to be precise.  The rest of the Republicans will spend their time pandering to a base that has issued a lock-step refusal of the science behind evolution let alone that of climate change.  At this critical juncture in the life of our planet, we simply cannot afford to take any steps backward.

No, no choice is perfect.  We should therefore never expect our presidential candidates to give full focus to what we might personally see as most critical issue.  But when examining the sobering, the dire, and quite honestly the frightening implications of climate change, the need for action becomes clear.  Hillary Clinton has at least articulated that fact.


When you couple that acknowledgment with Clinton’s record of skill and service, she becomes Earth’s clearest and most realistic hope for 2016.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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