Why Bipartisanship Might Destroy the Planet

Daquella Manera/CC BY 2.0

Yesterday I asked whether the GOP's post-defeat soul searching could result in more constructive environmental policies. That might seem a stretch, at least to those of us who have witnessed the Right's lurch to unscientific irrationalism.

Republican Environmentalists Don't Have to Be An Oxymoron
But there are votes to be won. And the GOP sure could use some votes when it comes to Presidential politics. As if to underscore this thought, I got into a conversation with a deeply environmentally aware friend yesterday.

"I could be a Republican," he said. "I like the free market. I think we all do better when we are incentivized to perform. I just hate the anti-environmental bullshit, the rejection of marriage equality and contraceptive rights, and their apparent disregard for the very poor."

It's not the first time I've heard such sentiment from environmentalists either. The GOP would do well to take heed.

Cooperate. But Don't Compromise.
But let's not get carried away. Just because Kid Rock and Sean Penn preach civility doesn't mean we should simply agree to disagree. While pushing for constructive debate and cooperation is valuable, the scale of the challenges facing us is unambiguous—we must slash our emissions faster than either political party has so far contemplated. That may be possible through a bipartisan approach if both sides suddenly wake up to the problems we face. If it is not, this is not something to seek compromise on. To put it another way—settling for only partial armageddon, perhaps in exchange for some concessions on entitlement reform, is not a winning strategy.

Bipartisan Fetishism
Arianna Huffington has written previously about the dangers of bipartisan fetishism versus what's best for America. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the challenge to halt climate change, reverse the mass extinctions we see underway, and start healing the ecosystems we all rely on for survival.

Yes, it would be wonderful if both parties got serious about true environmental sustainability. Even if their proposed solutions differed, and they most likely would, an acceptance of the end goal—namely crafting an economic and cultural paradigm that can coexist the natural world—would advance our chances of success dramatically. But if one party won't come along for the ride, the other will have to go it alone.

And if neither party is willing to step up to the plate with adequate commitment, as currently appears to be the case, then it's up to us to raise a stink until they do.

Demand For Action Is Broad
From the Confederation of British Industry arguing that good environmental legislation is not a burden to activists occupying a power station, the actors in that struggle will be as diverse as the actions.

With the destructive power of a destabilized climate becoming increasingly evident, what matters is fixing the problem. If that can be done through compromise then great. But compromise is a tool for achieving success, not an end goal in and of itself.

Tags: Activism | Barack Obama | Carbon Emissions | Economics | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Solutions | Mitt Romney

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