We have precious few years to confront the climate crisis, and the unelected extremists on the Supreme Court are trying to obstruct some of the only avenues we have for progress. What’s worse is that leaders of the Democratic Party — who control the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives — seemingly have no plan but to write some vague tweets and surrender.
One week ago, I went to see legendary labor organizer Dolores Huerta speak at a press event hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus outside of the Capitol. Unexpectedly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed up. I approached her and asked how young voters could trust her after she supported Henry Cuellar (a fossil-fuel-friendly politician who happens to be the last anti-choice Democrat in the House) over his primary challenger Jessica Cisneros (a young Latina who is a pro-choice climate champion). I didn’t get an answer, but I did get a polite “have a nice day” from the bodyguard who pushed me away from her. The politicians of Pelosi’s era, like President Biden, remain committed to a fantasy that they can negotiate with Republicans, and that arcane Senate traditions are more important than taking the necessary action that will keep people safe and improve lives. It is clear that they are wrong.
In response to the draconian rulings by a stolen Supreme Court, Democrats need to wake up and respond at the scale demanded by the crises unfolding with our climate and democracy.
First, Democrats should defy and circumvent a Court whose legitimacy is dead. To defend democracy and our planet, the Biden administration and congressional Democrats should double-down on their commitments to climate action. That means Congress must abolish the filibuster and enact sweeping climate legislation, and Biden must use the full extent of his executive powers to justly transition our country to 100% renewable energy. There are things he can do right now, from further invoking the Defense Production Act to expedite the transition to renewables, declaring a climate emergency, and ending the practice of selling leases for public lands and waters for fossil fuel production, that would begin to tackle this crisis.
Second, Democrats must clean up the Court. Half of the conservative Justices were appointed by a president who lost the popular vote, many of these justices were backed by nefarious dark money groups, and the spouse of one, Clarence Thomas, was affiliated with the January 6 insurrection. Democrats must expand the Court and appoint justices with proven track records of defending civil and constitutional rights. All justices, old and new, should be held accountable to a binding code of ethics.
Democrats have a mission before them, and so do we. The only way we are going to build a true democracy that can keep the people and places we love safe is by building a movement powerful enough to take on the extreme, violent and ascendant right wing. They want us to feel worthless and like nothing will ever change. We cannot let them. Our generation must rise to this moment in history and fight — our lives depend on it.
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