Since environmental issues top my list in evaluating presidential candidates, a few years ago I began to concentrate on certain folks circulating in the political scene. If a politician led with or included an environmental issue, legislation or regulations in their general comments, I paid close attention. And, they got extra points if they brought forth those opinions without first being specifically asked. Volunteering their positions up front was heartening because they were making sure environmental consequences of political actions were included in conversations.
Actions speak louder than words, of course, so it's a candidate's record of support and initiation of solutions that matters. That applies to everything from national parks, forests and monuments to water quality, energy production, chemical contamination, wildlife extinction, food protection, pesticides, oil and gas extraction, pipelines, population impacts, air pollution, soil loss, land use, forestry management, mining, solid waste/wasted resources, ocean ecology destruction, and, of course, climate change. Indigenous tribal rights, urban planning, and environmental justice play major roles in many of these topics with justice being at the foundation for each value and for each action.
The Democratic National Committee seems to think the environment is too narrow a topic for a whole debate. That is tragically wrong-headed. Our environment is not one issue. It is the overarching big picture and should be our first issue, not way down on a "maybe we'll ask" list where it has been, if listed at all, in polls, debates and media coverage in past campaigns.
Don't agree? OK, here's a simple test. Hold your breath for one or two minutes. Next, drink a glass of something you've been told is water even though it doesn't really look or taste like water. After this exercise, we can talk about priorities. This test is personal, it is immediate and it clears the mind of all its other political woes and issues. Mainly, it gives understanding to what environmentalists have been fighting to protect for decades.
You are breathing poisons or particles that most likely will harm your health if you live near factories, drilling and fracking sites, massive traffic-filled cities, smoke stacks, fires, chemical plants, pesticide/herbicide spraying, blowing sand, heavy exhaust, etc. And, if you don't know what's actually in the liquids you drink -- it could be anything from poop to lead, dirt, chemicals, additives, etc. -- then cheers! Unfortunately, you are not paying attention to life's other basic requirement -- clean water. When clean air and water are polluted, our health subsidizes the profits of private enterprise. Therefore I want a candidate who thinks this is criminal and who vows to protect life's basics.
I want to know where candidates stand on multiple issues. I want to know where they've been and what they've been up to for most of their lives. I want to know the experiences and actions that have made them who they are, how they've made a living, and if they've been an active or absent parent in raising a child or children. I want to know what they've learned on jobs, in schools, by volunteering and in politics. What would provoke them to get out of or into wars, and are they trigger-happy and imperial, or would they do everything in their power to protect every single life, whether in our military or someone else's, and believe no one anywhere should die for the wrong reasons.
I want to know which candidates are as horrified as I am that children are separated from their parents at our borders and held in captivity, a national sin that will forever be our country's shame. Do they support gun control, the Equal Rights Amendment and women's health protections as well as health care as a right for all? And, do they want every citizen to receive as much free education as they want to pursue, understanding that an educated and skilled citizenry is our country's most important resource and investment.
A presidential candidate should have a global knowledge of other countries and their histories and governments. And, they should show by their actions that they know the definitions of diplomacy and integrity.
I don't care what gender they are or what color, what heritage, what age, what ethnicity, what sexual orientation, what religion (or none), what sports they play (or don't), or what they read (as long as they can and do). None of this matters.
I only want to know -- can I trust them?
Commentary on 06/25/2019
Print Headline: A presidential checklist