With No Illusions, Says Climate Leader, Clinton Must Be Elected—Then Fiercely Confronted
The day after the election, the climate movement will 'need to press harder than ever for real progress on the biggest crisis the world has ever faced.'
Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of 350.org, minces no words addressing those environmentally-minded voters who are fretting over the mixed record of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton: Elect her, "and then give her hell."
In a column published at The Nation on Tuesday, McKibben shares the sentiment felt by many progressive voters this election season: "I'd much rather have been campaigning for Bernie Sanders."
Those feelings, McKibben acknowledges, were compounded after WikiLeaks revealed this weekend that behind closed doors Clinton defended natural gas and fracking, and said that environmental activists should "get a life."
"Even the sight of attack dogs being used on peaceful Native American protesters didn't move her to break ranks with her industry allies and that fraction of the labor movement that still wants to build pipelines," he writes. "That's craven on her part, pure and simple."
"So why," he asks, "are many of us out there working to beat [Republican nominee Donald Trump] and elect her? Because Trump is truly a horror."
And when faced with the choice between a "horror," and a politician who—through growing pressure from concerned citizens—has shown she can be pushed on issues related to climate, McKibben reasons, he'll take the latter.
Indeed, Trump's idea of environmental policy is slashing regulations, closing the Environmental Protection Agency, fast-tracking new pipeline projects, and lifting restrictions on all sources of American energy, including the dirtiest fossil fuels and offshore deposits.
"[I]f Trump wins," McKibben continues, "we backslide on the small gains we've made. We've forced Clinton to say through gritted teeth that she opposes Keystone, for instance. She can't, I think, go back on that. Trump has made it clear he'll permit that and every other pipeline, just as soon as he's done tearing up the Paris climate accord."
What's more, he notes that on some issues, like women's rights and immigration, "Clinton actually seems sincere."
The "good news," McKibben concludes, "is that when she wins, none of us will be under the slightest illusion about who she is."
And the day after she's elected, he says, that's when the environmental movement will truly need to kick into gear.
"The honeymoon won't last 10 minutes," he says, "on November 9 we'll be organizing for science and human rights and against the timid incrementalism that marks her approach. It's clear that we need to beat the creepy perv she's running against. It's also clear that we then need to press harder than ever for real progress on the biggest crisis the world has ever faced."
McKibben's plea to voters is similar to that made by his political ally, Sanders—who, during the Democratic primary, had appointed McKibben as a surrogate to negotiate the party platform. Sanders, too, has argued that the initial priority is making sure Clinton is elected, and then mobilizing to pressure her on progressive issues, from energy policy to healthcare.