This diary isn’t just about climate change, but it starts with this twitter thread from David Roberts comparing Inslee and Biden on climate.
1. All right, I haven’t communicated this clearly, so lemme do a thread. Biden (along with Bennett, Beto, Gillibrand, & a few others) has issued a climate proposal that targets net-zero US emissions by 2050. Inslee is targeting 2045 or sooner.
— David Roberts (@drvox) August 1, 2019
Roberts says the big difference between Inslee and Biden is not their target date for net zero (although, obv, Inslee’s 2045 is better than Biden’s 2050). Meeting either deadline would require the same kinds of radical, likely unpopular, measures required to avoid even more radical consequences.
Roberts on Vox:
For the US, reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 [Biden’s target] would be an absolutely titanic feat, one of the greatest things human beings have ever done together (that’s to say nothing of the whole world doing it).
For any realistic chance of pulling it off, the US would have to start immediately on a crash course of phasing out fossil fuels, massively expanding clean energy, and rapidly developing and scaling up carbon-negative technologies. It would require an effort on the scale of war mobilization. Policy radicalism is baked into — implied by — the target. (Original emphasis)
The difference, Roberts notes, is that Inslee spells out what those radical measures must be, while Biden does not. Inslee gets it; Biden’s understanding “is not in evidence” (tweet thread).
Moderation in the pursuit of survival is no virtue
(or is it?)
So (and this is my take, not Roberts’s) some and maybe all of these things are true:
- Biden is not tied to particular climate-change positions that are decidedly not moderate and may be unpopular. Which is arguably smart, politically
- But if elected he would have nothing like a mandate to immediately start doing those radical things, which are absolutely necessary.
- And maybe he doesn’t mean to start right away. Maybe he isn’t serious at all. Maybe it’s just political boilerplate. In which case, we are literally cooked.
- Inslee’s take on what’s needed is correct, but it could render him unelectable.
- On the other hand, Inslee winning on climate change would make achieving that goal likely.
In other words, if a Biden victory cannot deliver the radical changes that are needed, then Inslee is the better bet even if his chances of winning are not as good.
And also racism, equality, and the rule of law
Once I absorbed this, I saw it as a template for the party and the election as a whole.
The problems we face, such as white supremacist terrorism, racism, and economic inequality and predator capitalism, today require measures that are as radical, in their own way, as the environmental measures needed to avoid radical environmental disruption.
Again, some candidates get it, while others apparently don’t.
Who is willing to campaign on those measures? No one wants to nominate an unelectable candidate, but a hobbled or clueless moderate would just be the wrong person for the job today. (I would characterize that job as “pulling us back form the brink of fascism,” and I do not use the F word lightly.)
I am torn between the argument that on these issues those vying for the nomination should keep their powder dry (and mouths shut) for the general election, versus the observation that only by running hard on the important issues can we hope to save our country.
What does the Blue Mass Mind think?