There are those days where one is reminded, by a proverbial kick in the gut, that life is not fair. Such was the day of the general election of November 2016.
I take solace in the fact that this was not an election about public lands or climate change. Nonetheless, the consequences to public lands and climate change will likely be grave.
This was an election about the majority of Americans who are not better off today than they were a generation ago, while a minority of Americans are fabulously better off. Some of this broad and deep discontent manifested in support for Bernie Sanders, while more of it manifested for Donald Trump.
The continued Republican control of the United States Senate during the 115th Congress (2017-18) and the presidency of Donald Trump (notice I didn’t call him a “Republican,” because he’s not) portend grave threats to the federal public lands and the climate.
As I watched in stark belief (alas, not disbelief) in the early hours of November 9, I felt great disappointment in nearly one half of my fellow Americans (Hillary Clinton, after all, did win the popular vote, that doesn’t count in the Electoral College).
On this day-after I am working through my five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, grieving and acceptance. The thing about these stages is they don’t have to come in a particular order and can be repeated.
I’m going to take a long walk with my dog and ponder next steps. A bad election outcome will cause one to change strategies and tactics, but not goals.
Later today—perhaps even before 5 pm—I’m going to make myself a dirty (perhaps I’ll make it filthy) martini (gin, of course) and consume it while making dinner for myself and my beloved. Over dinner and another martini, we’ll continue to work through the five stages and remind ourselves that life is still very good. I shall make it an early night and get back to work on Thursday.
I’ve been around long enough to remember the dark days of The Reagan Administration and the dark days of the G.W. Bush Administration. The days of Trump may be darker. In previous dark times, the Democrats generally held at least one house of Congress and served as a check on the excesses of Reagan and Bush, as did the federal courts.
This time a “Republican” President can sign legislation passed by a Republican House of Representatives and a Republican Senate. The only check is the Senate rule that requires 60 out of their 100 votes to end debate (aka filibuster).
The ultimate backstop for public lands and climate change is the American electorate. I am confident that most care about public lands and enough care about climate change so that we can persevere and—in the end—be victorious on both.
Regarding climate change, the realities of physical science do not yield to the realities of political science. The former are immutable, while the latter are quite mutable.
Regarding federal public lands, strong majorities—over all, in both major parties and across all demographics—favor their retention and conservation.
As I move forward—necessarily more on defense than I prefer—I will continually remind myself that while I am opposing attempts to change the status quo for the worse, I am not defending the status quo. Instead I will continue to articulate visions, ideas and policies for changing the status quo for the better.
* I penned this last Wednesday morning after the election.