While it saddens us to do so, the Leadership Team of the Elders Climate Action Massachusetts Chapter is compelled to make this statement regarding the perilous condition of the American democracy and the consequences of the upcoming election for the treatment of climate change.
Since the Trump administration came to power in January 2017, we have seen the tragic dismantling of all Federal level efforts to address climate change and a dismemberment of America’s environmental protections in general. Beginning with the abandonment of the Paris Accords right through to President Trump’s statement on September 14, 2020 that “Science doesn’t know” if climate change is real, an extremely troubling pattern of climate change denial and short-term thinking have characterized the headlong rush of our national leadership toward climate chaos. Every element of stability that we’ve previously taken for granted is now under threat.
ECA is non-partisan and pro-climate. It is impossible for those of us who know that climate change is real to be silent in the face of the sort of anti-science lunacy that’s emanating from the Executive Branch. We are bound by our values and by the evidence to speak out clearly and forcefully. If a Democratic administration or any power holder of whatever political stripe were to act like this, we’d stand against it.
We are also deeply alarmed about the undemocratic tendencies being exhibited by Mr. Trump and a number of his associates. We are shocked by a President who will not make a commitment to a peaceful transfer of power and who has done and is doing everything he can to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process. We are stunned and embarrassed as Americans by his deplorable debate performance. Even in the midst of the Civil War, which took hundreds of thousands of lives, Lincoln never threatened to disrupt or not abide by an election and its results.
These are turbulent times, indeed, and they are likely to get much more so between November 4 and January 20, if the results of the November 3 general election are not decisive.
Many are worried that the “interregnum” period after the election up to Inauguration Day will be among the most trying in the life of our Republic. In an extensive recent article from The Atlantic, Barton Gellman lays out a range of hair-raising scenarios that could happen after the election, including the imposition of an authoritarian regime that will not honor the will of the people and rip up the rule of law. In that eventuality, America and all of us would be faced with a Constitutional crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Confederacy fired on Ft. Sumter in April 1861.
So, it is with a sense of urgency that ECA Massachusetts issues this call to action. Now is the time to make a strong commitment to protecting America and promoting the climate policies that will preserve a livable climate for our children, our grandchildren and all life.
Elders Climate Action is not standing on the sidelines. We are advocating for a safe and fair election, reaching out to hundreds of thousands of potential voters, and preparing for a very ugly post-election. We need everyone who is reading this to stay engaged. What we do as citizens and activists really will make a difference.
Never in our lives, and probably never in the history of our nation, has a sitting president suggested that he might not honor the results of an election. So we’re in uncharted territory. This is no time to throw up our hands in despair. It’s a time to continue putting actionable voting information in the hands of every potential voter that we possibly can. That’s what ECA members have been doing for the past five months, and that’s what we will continue to do. But we also need to make sure that every vote is counted, and that all parties honor the will of the voters. So, here are our specific action priorities in the coming weeks and months:
election protection - ACLU, NAACP and more than 100 other organizations have formed an election protection consortium and are organizing volunteers for all kinds of functions, including lawyer hotlines, election monitors who will drive to polling places and report backups or untoward activity, social media monitors to pick up on problems, social media networks to propagate accurate and motivation info. They really seem to have a solid plan and we recommend that everyone consider an election protection role. https://protectthevote.net
responding to a stolen election - As much as we would like to deny that a stolen election is possible, we have to consider it. Experts differ on the extent of the danger, but it’s clearly something we can’t ignore. Grassroots empowerment expert George Lakey has done a historical analysis of attempted political coups, and concludes that the extent of public demonstration and pushback is a key factor in determining the success of a coup. Please read his comments here, and register for a two hour workshop on “How to beat an election-related power grab.” Also please read 10 things you need to know to stop a coup by Daniel Hunter.
Finally, we really need to take care of ourselves and each other. Our key words are compassion, solidarity, focus and determination!