We Can’t Afford “Moderation"
By Hani Jawabrah
Joe Biden has become president after defeating the far-right Republicans in the 2020 election. But, after losing some ground in the House, the Democratic Party has taken up hippie-punching. They argue that talk of “defunding the police” and “socialism” has tanked the campaigns of multiple Democratic politicians. They now call on progressives to temper their approach to politics and avoid progressive policies lest the Democrats lose any more elections. Perhaps this is a good strategy for campaigning, but in no way is this a good strategy for keeping our country stable and the planet populated by human beings.
Though many would call climate change an existential threat, the same impulse to moderate progressive views has been applied to this issue. In fact, these demands to moderate progressive climate policy fit this logic well. Taking a radical stance on climate change would worry moderate voters and cost some Democrats their seats. That’s pretty bad for the Democrats and it's also pretty bad for a plethora of progressive policies that we could gain from those seats. But, we must consider the fact that human life on our planet is at risk. We must consider that entire countries can potentially be swallowed up by the ocean. We must consider the climate refugees that the Pentagon predicts will cause widespread global conflict. This is a dangerous threat that we are dealing with, one that could forever ruin our lives and those of others. To moderate on this issue is dangerous and selfish.
I can hear the Political Science majors and liberals groan as I type this, but Democrats must be willing to lose seats over this issue specifically. They must be willing to fight Republicans over this issue tooth and nail. We are not politicians. We are citizens and our demands for a better life must be answered. Now, please remember, this isn’t a call for defunding the police or for socialism or even for a moderate healthcare system enjoyed by Europeans. This is specifically about climate change. Those are separate issues that need their own articles and will have separate avenues into actual legislation. But climate change is unlike those other issues in that it requires action now. It requires leadership and that means leading by example. How can a candidate actually expect citizens to make any of the sacrifices that a climate response would require if they themselves are not willing to make any sacrifices?
Consider the reaction to protests against some of Biden’s cabinet picks. His climate movement liaison received $340,000 from oil and gas lobbies and his EPA transition team pick defended Dupont as it pumped dangerous chemicals into people’s drinking water. Yet, people still call on the general public to wait and allow Biden to continue to form this sordid team because he is not in office. In fact, they accuse climate activists of being troublemakers. This is a group of suicidal sycophants. We only have the next decade to deal with climate change. We do not need these kinds of people in office, yet Biden has selected them anyway. I wonder if when these people think about climate change, do they even consider its threat to mankind, or do they only see it as something to clobber conservatives with? If you ask “is climate change an existential threat?” and say yes, but do not act as if it is an existential threat at the risk of upsetting conservatives and moderates, then I think you do not have any semblance of a survival instinct.
So far, this has been a message to progressives and liberals who believe that climate change is an existential threat but are politically unsure of how to deal with the wall of moderates preventing us from making any sufficient change. Now, it is a message to the moderates and Republicans who are reading this. You must get out of the way. You must take this issue seriously. All the science is there, and if you truly believe and comprehend it, then you would support radical change on this issue specifically.
Many moderates might gasp at this, since they are used to the entire country getting on their knees and politely begging them for their vote, which forgoes the political needs of other Americans. Well, I’m not a politician, I’m a civilian like the rest of you, and I think you are holding America back. If this offends you, I’m glad, because you are hearing a different perspective for the first time ever. It angers me that moderates and conservatives can’t accept science and the implications of that science.
Consider what you are actually saying. “Democrats are so stuck up that I’m going to vote for someone who doesn’t believe or understand an existential threat to humanity.” “Democrats want socialism, want to take our guns away, and want to get rid of the police, so I am going to let a Republican ignore a threat that will send the entire world into chaos.” This is a simple cost-risk analysis. If you don’t think that climate change is a big deal, think about Bangladesh. It is densely populated and exists on a flat plain that will get engulfed by the sea should the temperature continue to rise. All Bangladeshis will become refugees in India, which will then destabilize an already poor country. That is just one area of the world; do you think Middle Eastern countries that exist in the desert can’t get more unstable? So please, for the love of mankind, consider climate change the ultimate policy of picking your candidates and join me in pressuring this country to mobilize as if we are in a world war to prevent a climate crisis.
You might think that you hate being forced to choose from one of two candidates, but your actual problem is systemic rather than one of choice. If you want more candidates, then you’ll have to advocate for radical change (i.e., ranked-choice voting). If you continue to dogmatically cling to moderation even in cases where the moderate answer is suicidal, then you are no better than fanatics blowing themselves up.
Hani Jawabrah is a Palestinian American studying Political Science and minoring in Arabic with plans to become a lawyer.