Musings on The Future of Bipartisanship and the Climate Crisis
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
This April, at our Virtual Earth Day Event we had the chance to chat with one of our Youth Panel speakers, Adrian. I found his perspective very eye-opening and even somewhat humbling. (In a good way. A reality-check type of humbling.)
He's a climate activist, but he differs from most bc he was introduced to climate advocacy as a Conservative, at a Republican conference. And he remains a Conservative Climate Outreach Fellow specializing in bringing climate awareness and environmental literacy to members of a political party that...may or may not respond well to his efforts or even believe that climate change is an issue at all. I can't imagine how intimidating that task must be, especially as a teen.
This story has completely altered (and expanded!) the way I view activism. In a time of deep ideological division, with policy decisions having such high stakes, it's easy to play into that polarization by distancing yourself from the "other." Sticking with your team. But when it comes to a crisis as cataclysmic as global warming, what good is it to remain in your ideological comfort zone?
I see a lot of this mentality adopted by activists. I'm guilty of it too. And I don't blame anyone for deeming certain conversations too frustrating and potentially triggering to have with people across the aisle. But for those of us who feel comfortable in doing so, reaching out to the other side seems pretty...worth it? And even productive to your cause.
I'm not involved in very many organizations that identify as "bipartisan." And I think a lot of people scoff at that word because it's viewed as...unrealistic? Or wishful thinking? Desperate? Ineffective? Trying too hard to be "liked" by everyone? Playing it safe? But I've come to a new realization in that connecting with, being patient with, negotiating with and having tough conversations with those on the "other side" is potentially one of the most radical things that can be done for your cause.
(How ironic. In today's political climate, bipartisanship is now a "radical" approach.)
I'm not here to try and blow "now is a time for healing" smoke up anyone's a** I'm not saying we now need to suddenly make nice, join hands and sing "Why Can't We Be Friends," by popular funk band War.
But it seems WORTH it to engage with ppl across party lines, to see where the values overlap. The overlap may be something that can be worked with.
Maybe bipartisanship is a dying language. I don't know. But climate legislation is something we need all hands on deck for. That's becoming increasingly obvious. And as we've seen in instances like Roe v. Wade, legislation that only has the support of one party is frequently at risk of being repealed. Even if it's been in place for nearly 50 years.
I really, REALLY do not want to watch a climate action law tug-of-war play out in front of me for the rest of my life. That's why we gotta make some efforts to get everyone invested. Which I think is possible, since the right does actually have a lot to gain from it such as: new green jobs and not going extinct.