CarbonCurb Action 30
Our current political condition is fueled by industry interests, but this can change. Outside of insulated subcultures and social circles subject to media silos, addressing climate change is not viewed as a constraint on economic growth. Climate change solutions bring economic and societal growth by transforming outdated industrial structures. Perhaps one day this could become a key message of a new Republican platform. Political parties are constantly undergoing ideological shifts. Although there are severe voter suppression issues in the U.S. stemming from GOP redistricting efforts and other initiatives, there are no sensible rebuttals to the notion that it is beneficial to have a large, informed, educated, engaged, and unsuppressed voting population. If our voting population checked all of these boxes, the political divide in the U.S. would not be recognized as Democrat vs. Republican, but People vs. Corporations. As long as we remain passionately partisan, corporations’ elite beneficiaries win, and we lose.
Corporate interest is the foundation of political divisiveness in our nation. A great deal of our tensions and disagreements stem from the limitless greed and wealth inequality facilitated by our corporatocracy, our plutocracy. The wealthiest few families in America possess more wealth than our country’s entire bottom half. In aggregate, we possess the wealth, skills, and knowledge necessary to solve climate change, but our wealth is being kept locked away from society. If you are angry with the United States government, direct your rage instead towards corporate and industrial interests who fight tooth and nail to avoid paying fair taxes and preserve their interests at the expense of social progress.
Donald Trump did not become President because he was a good businessman. He became President because America was ready to shake things up and try something new, something risky but new nonetheless. Trump was an experiment condoned by an America that was, and still is, sick of the outsized influence corporate stakeholders have over policy decisions. This core ideology spans both parties. Perhaps we can cross our great divides and reunite, returning to the good old days when everyone despised corrupted Republican and Democratic politicians equally. The political issues in America are not binary, as there are significant intraparty divisions and disagreements. We can learn to see that our issues, which have all the outward trappings of a partisan divide, stem from something deeper. Consider the major revolutions, transformations, and innovations of America’s past. Maybe the next great American innovation is how our nation functions when our society and government evolve to control corporate elitists.
Representatives from both parties are slave to the interests of corporations. It's virtually impossible to get elected to a federal position without corporate support. This is a HUGE problem that pervades our entire political system, and there are several proposed solutions out there to fix it, including using tax revenue to provide money for candidates to run campaigns, or other options to free our representatives from the financial power that corporations hold over them. The general structure of our government and election processes impedes rapid change in response to critical issues like climate change.
The current architecture of the U.S. government is outdated and insulates corporations from the demands of the people and our planet. There are chronic issues with gerrymandering and redistricting, which are the cancer of our democracy, as well as issues with our Electoral College process, the existence of our Senate in its current form, and many other issues within our archaic system of governance. Our system is not working anymore because it was created before anyone could possibly imagine the progress our civilization would achieve, the level of urbanization that would occur, the dynamics of global trade, the current implications of wealth redistribution, the very issue of global warming, and the way the modern world would function.
California and Wyoming each get two Senators despite the modern reality of California’s population being 70 times greater than Wyoming’s. California, the world’s fifth largest economy, comprising 15% of the United States’ GDP, gets a whopping 2% stake in our Senate. The Senate is only half of the problem. Look at Texas for instance. Texas is the top producer of crude oil and natural gas in the U.S. and is a prime example of unjust partisan redistricting and gerrymandering to skew Congressional election results in favor of the GOP. Texas’ population is split very evenly between those who lean Republican vs those who lean Democrat. It is in fact a near 50/50 split. However, due to aggressive, partisan redistricting to favor the Republican Party, of the 38 Congressional districts in Texas, Republicans are virtually guaranteed to win in 25 of them.
The game has been rigged and the cards stacked against the popular vote. We can unstack them, however this will require significantly increased and sustained voter turnout despite the hurdles before us. Within our current political system in the U.S., the most significant voter suppression issue is the extreme underrepresentation of population centers. The relationship between population density and Democratic margin-of-victory displayed in the figure below was derived using county-level election data from the 2020 presidential election, and county area and population estimates for 2020.
As you can see in the figure above, population centers—major cities—skew Democratic across the board, typically by a margin of 20% or more. The vast majority of America (62%) leans Democratic, yet why and how does the minority Republican Party wield so much power? In summary, ignoring all the contorted ways they work around not having the support of the majority of the population, they are fortified and bankrolled by industry interests.
As we have mentioned, the political tensions in America are People vs. Corporate Interest. The Republican Party has long been the party of big business, more recently becoming the platform most exploited by big fossil business, while the Democratic Party, although also not immune to corruption, has in recent years tended to be the platform aligned with the will of the majority of the population in the United States, otherwise known as the popular vote. Rural Americans are more isolated from the urban hubs of business and information. In addition to having lower exposure to discussions about issues such as climate change, rural populations are more vulnerable to becoming echo chambers for ideas grounded on propaganda. The lower the population density in an area, the more likely this is to occur. Big business realizes it is much harder to spread lies and propaganda throughout major population centers, and this is why they have concentrated and intensified their efforts across the less populated regions of America. The Republican Party has fully saturated rural America and, given the geographic distribution of Republican voters, the Party is more likely to continue to be the target platform exploited by private interest and for propagating radical, anti-democratic, and anti-climate policy views.
Alongside these issues, one cannot overlook the significant non-institutional voting issues in the U.S., the most significant of these being the turnout rate of different age groups. To put it simply, old people vote more than younger people, and the elderly are less concerned about the health of our planet over the next 100 years than are the youthful and people approaching middle age. The younger voting population skews strongly in the urban and Democratic direction. Rural America, on the other hand, is roughly seven years older than urban America, compounding the issues mentioned earlier.
There are several ways we could overcome disparities in voter turnout for different age cohorts. One approach is to implement compulsory voting. Compulsory voting, also called mandatory voting, requires citizens to participate in elections and is enforced in more than a dozen countries, including Australia. In Australia, all citizens over the age of 18 must vote. If someone fails to vote in an election, they are fined. If they fail to pay that fine, they may be penalized further. After enacting compulsory voting in 1924, not surprisingly, Australia’s voter turnout rate skyrocketed and has since never dipped below 90%. For comparison, in the U.S. we’d be lucky to have a 65% voter turnout rate in the next presidential election. Additionally, Australia uses a system of preferential voting that better represents the popular vote. If such a system of compulsory voting were implemented in the United States, the minority, far-right Republican Party would not stand a chance of competing with the Democratic Party unless the Republican Party were to dramatically change their platform to appeal to the popular vote.
Voting gives you the ability to make your voice heard on the issues that matter most to you. Your voting rights are your climate rights, your social rights, your healthcare rights, and give you some sway over the world you are surrounded by and maybe struggling to get by in. The public at large is losing its sway by allowing the fossil fuel-backed, minority GOP to seize control of politics. You must remain a faithful voter, despite the frustrations of corruption, systemic racism, and voter suppression, to build political power for the climate movement. We must come together to create an ecological revolution by defending our rights to a healthy, functioning planet from the potential devastation that is being facilitated by our plutocracy. We must vote for a just and sustainable society. We must vote to protect our common interest. We must protect our public wealth––the Earth and its climate––from systematic plundering by private interest.
Voting matters more often than every four or two years. As members of a democratic system, we each have an unremitting civic duty of reaching out to others and voting on all matters so that our system represents the will of the people. As a climate warrior, it is critical for you to become fiercely politically engaged and act to influence others. Voting matters, not just at the federal level, but at state and local levels too. In fact, many don't realize the large-scale impacts that municipal and state-level policies have on the climate. Take Missouri and its largest electric utility, Ameren, as an example. If Missourians chose to, they could have an impact of global significance by effectively voting for the climate and intervening and commenting in cases with the Missouri Public Service Commission. What is required is overcoming voter turnout demographic and voter suppression issues and confronting energy companies beyond Missouri, in all U.S. states, and in D.C.
Assuming no sweeping changes to alter our voting system will be implemented, we desperately need the younger generations in America to vote. Ignoring corporate influence, we are indeed observing the political collision between an older rural and a younger urban voting population, each with dramatically different worldviews. The older generation must understand the war of our generation is to regulate the atmosphere of our now overpopulated planet. We should strive not to exacerbate tensions, but to promote all generations and people banding together to maximize our probability of delivering or nearly delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement. Climate change will affect our future more than most foresee. Voting wisely is part of what we need to be doing now to transform an economic system that is destroying the Earth—our life support system. Hey, you, yeah you in your 20s and 30s, vote like your life depends on it.
A lot! kg CO2e
Huge!% of your emissions
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