Saving Democracy to Save Climate. Saving Climate To Save Democracy.

April 19, 2022

Below, Congressman Jamie Raskin makes the point. We have to save our democracy if we hope to have the tools to save a livable planet. Above, Journalist Emily Atkin told me the same thing a year ago.


When it comes to fighting for democracy and climate change – two of Jamie Raskin’s top priorities – the whole thing feels a bit like a game of chicken and egg to the Democratic congressman.

On the one hand there is the planet, heating up quickly past the limit that is safe and necessary for human survival, while Congress stalls on a $555bn climate package. On the other, a pernicious movement, spurred by Donald Trump and other rightwing conspiracy theorists, to upend voting rights protections and cast doubt on the current election system.

But Raskin, a progressive congressman from Maryland, is clear about which comes first: he said America can’t fix the planet without fixing its government.

This concept plays out clearly in the country’s uneven political representation. The majority of Americans think the government should be doing more to reduce the impacts of climate change, including taxing corporations based on their carbon emissions. But issues like partisan gerrymandering, where politicians manipulate voting district lines, often allow rightwing politicians to retain disproportionate power across state governments.

“The key to understanding the collapse of civilizations is that you get a minority faction serving its own interests by dominating government,” he said, referencing Jared Diamond’s book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. “And then everything collapses, usually through the exploitation of natural resources to a point where it’s unsustainable and untenable. That fits pretty perfectly the situation that we’re in with the GOP and climate change today.”

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