This week, the members of Climate Hawks Vote will be receiving messages on behalf of both candidates in the Climate Primary — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — with each making the case for why they deserve your vote. To ensure fairness, we are sending each message to an equal number of recipients and in random order. Please read, cast your ballot, and get out the vote to your friends and family. —RL Miller, President, Climate Hawks Vote
Dear Brad —
Bernie Sanders is a stand-up guy.
When we told him about the Keystone Pipeline in the summer of 2011, he immediately set to work helping us block it. He strategized, he used his bully pulpit in the Senate to spread the word, and he devoted staff time to pressuring the State Department. Contrast that with, say, Barack Obama who was mostly silent about climate change his whole first term, and managed to make it all the way through the 2012 campaign without discussing it. Or Hillary Clinton, who after initially saying she was "inclined" to approve Keystone has gone entirely mum on the most iconic environmental issue of our time.
Who showed up in New York for the People's Climate March? Bernie Sanders. Who said, when he announced his run for president, "the peril of global climate change, with catastrophic consequences, is the central challenge of our times and our planet." That would be Bernie Sanders.
Join me: Vote for Bernie Sanders to win the Climate Hawks Vote endorsement.
But what makes his fierceness on climate change really remarkable is that the "environment" is not his defining issue. Everyone in Vermont knows Bernie pretty well (it's that kind of state) and so I can say he fits no one's stereotype of an enviro. He doesn't put on a spandex suit and go cross-country skiing; he doesn't, I'm guessing, meditate to reduce his stress levels. He doesn't go on and on about the woods and the rivers -- he goes on and on about working class Vermonters who can't afford health care and heating oil. His issue is inequality and unfairness, and it has been from the start.
And for those of us who do work mostly on the environment, that's just the kind of ally we need. Because it's a constant reminder that this battle is for people, who need renewable energy so they can break the constant cycle of struggling to pay the fuel bill, and because it will be the source of good jobs. And because it will be one of the chief ways we break with the plutocrats, many of them in the fossil fuel industry, who are ruining both our atmosphere and our democracy.
If we approached this crisis with the same energy and resolve that followed our entry into World War II, we could transform the nation with great speed. Yes, it would mean standing up to the fossil fuel interests, and that won’t be easy. But yes, it would also mean mobilizing millions of workers with good-paying jobs (no one is going to send their house to China to get a solar panel put on top). And yes, it would mean a real future for our families.
Bernie is exactly right when he says the biggest threat to national security is climate change. When you’re dealing with climate change, your adversary, more than anything, your adversary is physics. And physics is entirely uninterested in spin, positioning, and it’s a terrible negotiator — ‘Ah well, you know, OK, the economy’s in a rough patch, we’ll meet you halfway.’ — Physics doesn’t care. Bernie understands that we’re going to have to do big things, not the little easy things because this is not one of those issues.
Make no mistake — Bernie Sanders isn't really running against Hillary Clinton. He's running against the Koch Brothers, and all that they represent: taken together they're the richest man on earth. They've made their money in oil and gas (they're the largest leaseholders in the Alberta tar sands, on the far end of the Keystone Pipeline). They spend their money to break unions, to shut out solar power, to further concentrate America's wealth. They'll spend at least $900 million on the next election, and their operatives are running the Republican Party — even Donald Trump’s campaign is run by Koch people. But Bernie Sanders, with his people-powered campaign, has got their number. They know, in their heart of hearts, that there's two of them and hundreds of millions of us, and that's got to be a little scary.
During his campaign, Bernie has been standing tall with the pipeline fighters of Nebraska, the fractivists of Colorado, the solar workers of Nevada, and the families of Flint, Michigan. He’s the real deal.
More than that, Bernie has shown with years of committed action that he will not just talk about the climate on the campaign trail, he will do it in the Oval Office. He understands it for the deep, simple problem it is: that we can’t keep burning this stuff. Our time now is clearly a scary moment, but it could be a thrilling one too. Depending on who’s next in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Please cast your vote now in the Climate Primary for Bernie Sanders.
P.S. Bernie is a movement politician. His theory of history is that movements change things. I think he’s right. The cruelest trick would be to elect Bernie and then walk away, leave him to deal with all this stuff on his own. That would be terrible. I don’t think he wants it, and I think he’d be mad if people did that, and rightly so. I like Barack Obama and went and knocked on doors for him, but I also ended up chained to his fence at the White House. It’s completely possible I’ll end up chained to President Bernie Sanders’s fence too.