No, it’s not about me. As with most of my generation, and as a white guy, I’ve had all the opportunities available: education, employment, privilege and influence. My generation should have done better with what we received. We squandered the moment.
It’s time for the next generations to take charge.
What does this have to do with a petition? Please follow along.
I stopped by a couple of meetings this past week. The first was Missoula’s Sunrise Movement. It’s one of the many local chapters springing up around the country in response to the New Green Deal. There are three others in Montana that I know of, hundreds around the country. One quote from the Sunrise website summed it up: staying on the current path “is a death sentence for our generation.”
I was the oldest in the group of about 20, and 20 was the median age. There were a few older folks although I was the only baby boomer — the generation that’s now pretty much in charge. And many in the group were angry. Angry that we, my age group and older, were leaving them a legacy of a climate crisis rife with rising seas, extreme weather, forest fires and species extinction.
They hate Trump and his Republican sycophants but were also suspicious of Democrats (with the possible exception of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez).
They were organized and motivated. This is who the Democratic Party needs to embrace.
The other meeting was centered on our endless wars, titled: “A Conversation on Peace, Disarmament, Militarism and Citizen Activism.” It was hosted by Kevin Martin, president of Peace Action, a national peace, nuclear disarmament and justice action group.
It was a not so gentle reminder of our country’s military budget. We spend more on “defense” than the next seven countries combined. As to our military bases worldwide, from Politico:
The United States maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad—from giant “Little Americas” to small radar facilities. Britain, France and Russia, by contrast, have about 30 foreign bases combined.
Then there’s our nuclear arms presence. In Montana alone, there are 150 Minuteman Missiles with three nuclear warheads per missile, making us a first-strike target if ever there was one.
And we wonder why the following generations are appalled at current political leadership.
There’s one thing I can give the Republican Party credit for — it looked at the long game. After Sen. Barry Goldwater got trounced in the 1964 presidential election, the conservative power brokers at the time put together a strategy. From George Packer in The Atlantic:
During those years, conservatives hammered away at institutional structures, denouncing the established ones for their treacherous liberalism, and building alternatives, in the form of well-funded right-wing foundations, think tanks, business lobbies, legal groups, magazines, publishers, professorships. When Reagan won the presidency in 1980, the products of this “counter-establishment” were ready to take power.
Add a little racism to bring Southern Democrats into the fold, mix in abortion and gays, and you have yourself a movement.
The Democratic Party at the state and national level needs to reach out to the young and people of color and the disenfranchised. These are the folks looking for candidates to vote for. They are the future of the party. Just look at the demographics. “It’s the math, stupid!” writes a RealClearPolitics contributor.
Future voters are tired of the endless wars. They’re disgusted with our abuse of the planet. They’re appalled at the inequality: economic, gender and racial.
Once the Democratic Party stops tiptoeing around these blights on humanity and advances concrete policies, there will be nothing to hold it back.
Now to the petition. This is a first step to holding the Democratic Party accountable — a petition to get the Democratic National Committee to focus on the climate crisis. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democratic candidate for president, asked that a debate on climate change be held for all the Democratic presidential candidates. The DNC said “no.” From Inslee’s correspondence:
“Today, my team received a call from the Democratic National Committee letting us know that they will not host a climate debate. Further, they explained that if we participated in anyone else’s climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates.
This is deeply disappointing. The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time. Democratic voters say that climate change is their top issue; the Democratic National Committee must listen to the grassroots of the party.”
Keep agitating at the national, state and local level. That’s the message from a guy who has been around the party for quite some time and wants to see Democrats evolve and prosper, and make the world a better place for everyone and everything.