Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Political allies Sen. Bernie Sanders and Bill McKibben are advocating for electing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The "good news," McKibben writes, "is that when she wins, none of us will be under the slightest illusion about who she is." (Photo: Gage Skidmore/cc/flickr)

Political allies Sen. Bernie Sanders and Bill McKibben are advocating for electing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The "good news," McKibben writes, "is that when she wins, none of us will be under the slightest illusion about who she is." (Photo: Gage Skidmore/cc/flickr)

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.'

Lauren McCauley

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."

Those damning email leaks only further underscored what McKibben describes as Clinton's "craven" silence over the Dakota Access Pipeline fight.

"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.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Urged to Take Emergency Action After 'Disastrous' Climate Ruling by Supreme Court

"The catastrophic impact of this decision cannot be understated," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, but "we cannot accept defeat."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo