Some Election Day Food for Thought

Some Election Day Food for Thought

As Election Day nears, let me squeeze in another post about this very soon-to-conclude election cycle …

The fate of the country … does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning. — Henry David Thoreau (1854)

Besides disagreeing with the either-or implication (both are important), I think Thoreau might be greatly underestimating the importance of that piece of paper you “drop into the ballot box.” Remember 2000? One reason I can’t stand Ralph Nader is because he campaigned strongly on the premise that Al Gore and George W. Bush were essentially the same. Oh, really? One, wrote Earth in the Balance, and also produced the Academy Award and Nobel Prize-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth; and the other, when asked at a press conference whether he was going to see it (the documentary), said no. And additionally, as if that wasn’t enough, one was against invading Iraq; while the other was for it. Need I say more?

Fast forward to the presidential race that is currently under way and while part of me says it’s not even possible, it probably is possible, that in Donald J. Trump you actually have someone who is even more ignorant on environmental issues than George W. Bush was. There is literally nothing on his official website related to environmental issues; and if you click on the “Energy” tab, all you get is information that can best be summed up as “Drill, baby, drill!” That’s his energy plan. Full-steam ahead in the entirely wrong direction. This despite the fact that, for example, it was only about a month ago that the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report stating that more than 90 percent of the people on the planet are breathing polluted air, and that breathing bad air is responsible for the deaths of more than six million people a year. Additionally, a UNICEF report, released about a week ago, concludes that worldwide, 300 million children are breathing toxic air, and nearly 600,000 children under the age of 5, die annually as a result. And what does Trump want to do? Well, besides more drilling and more fossil fuel burning, it was reported in late September that he was planning to pick Myron Ebell, one of the nation’s most prominent climate change skeptics, to lead his EPA transition team. Ebell — who holds an M.S. in economics, from the London School of Economics — has in the past described Newt Gingrich’s proposal to abolish the EPA, as “bold and visionary.” That shouldn’t be surprising, though, since Trump himself makes clear his belief that climate change isn’t caused by anything man is doing.

Hillary Clinton is certainly no Rachel Carson, either. But at least she’s acknowledged the problem is very real, that our species is largely (if not entirely) to blame, and that ignoring this reality will have very serious consequences, not just for us, but for succeeding generations as well.

If the worst thing you can say about Hillary Clinton is she’s deleted emails, then that alone should be reason enough  to vote for her. Take a look at a one dollar bill and a two dollar bill (or a nickel), and you’ll see two men that between them owned hundreds and hundreds of slaves. They supported kidnapping and the buying and selling of human beings. A quick glimpse at Wikipedia and you’ll learn that an estimated 31.5 million Africans were enslaved, or died as a result of being captured, during those centuries when the slave trade was rampant. (Twelve million were brought to the Atlantic region [including 10.5 million to the United States], 6 million to Asia, 8 million remained in Africa, 4 million died inside Africa after capture, and about 1.5 million died on board ships while in transit.) And yet, despite his support for that practice of packing human beings like sardines into ships, to be brought over and sold to the highest bidder, Jefferson won his presidential race, and in 1804 was re-elected. So do you still want to talk about Hillary’s deleted emails?

Moving right along, here is a quotation from the son of a former United States president, speaking about another issue that often leaves Democrats and Republicans sharply divided:

My father and I disagree on all kinds of things. I wasn’t real thrilled with the administration’s record on AIDS, on the environment, on the homeless, on a whole raft of social issues. I’d see him talking to some right-to-lifers and I’d cringe. He’s my father and I love him and he’s entitled to his opinions, but I find it [being against abortion rights] abhorrent. — Ron Reagan, Jr.

I couldn’t agree more; and for lots of reasons. But consider a point raised by Sam Harris, in his book Letter to a Christian Nation:

Almost every cell in your body is a potential human being, given our recent advances in genetic engineering. Every time you scratch your nose, you have committed a Holocaust of potential human beings. — Sam Harris

Would Republicans seek to make it a crime to scratch one’s nose? I wouldn’t put it past them. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not too important which candidate you choose to back.

[Note: The Ron Reagan, Jr., quotation above, came from an article that appeared in Newsday, “First Family Reunion,” by Karen Freifeld, Mar. 13, 1989.]