By Cody Petterson
It is right that we celebrate today. That we set aside our worries, disappointments, and reservations, and celebrate our deliverance.
Tomorrow, however, as we survey the wreckage left by the Trump Administration and begin to imagine how we will rebuild, and how exhausting and difficult that task will be, we should remember that the contradictions that fueled Trumpism remain — deep in our society and economy — and that they will continue to destabilize our nation until we have faced them and resolved them.
The San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, as our name suggests, is dedicated to one thing above all: environmental action. But the calamity that Americans brought upon themselves these last four years has reinforced a powerful lesson: we will not save our open spaces, our biodiversity, our climate, without saving our communities.
The only thing that returns nations to equilibrium is movement. The only thing that will meet and overcome the fossil fuel industry, the sprawl development industry, the arms industry, Wall Street — in short the enemies of life on earth — is movement. The only thing that will defeat our own personal and collective inertia and complacency is movement.
And by "movement" I do not mean small groups of disaffected, self-satisfied loners, isolated from and disdainful of their neighbors and co-workers and communities. I mean movement that emerges from the concrete, lived experience of a people. To the extent that we, as activists, organizers, and advocates, can foster movement, it is through active, intimate, intentional participation in the life of our communities. Movement has no roots. It borrows our roots for its nourishment. And by "roots" I mean relationships. And by "relationships" I mean full, loving, helping, understanding, time- and energy-consuming relationships.
There is no climate movement. There's not even an environmental movement, just as there are not, properly speaking, "environmental" relationships. We can no longer fight to save a canyon or a species, or stop a pipeline or a wall, and then go home to the opportunities, and advantages, and assets we have hoarded. We cannot stand against an environmental injustice with communities of color or of concern, or with our Indigenous sisters and brothers, and then let them return to their poverty and we to our prosperity.
The natural system will not return to some semblance of equilibrium so long as our human communities are out of equilibrium. And human communities—our nation—will not return to equilibrium without equality. To the racial inequality that has always plagued us, we have added an increasingly obscene and insurmountable inequality of wealth and income. We have a government committed, above all else, to protecting and increasing the wealth of the wealthy. A government that over the last half century has facilitated the expropriation of half the wealth of middle-income families and its redistribution to the wealthy. Not only can that not continue, it cannot stand.
We will fulfill this nation's promise of equality, or we will suffer more, and more competent, Trumps. And destroy our habitat, and biodiversity, and planet in the process.
Today is not a perfect day, but it is good day. It is certainly a day worthy of celebration. After the curse of the last four years, and in spite of the hard years ahead, it is a blessing.
Photo by Tommy Hough
The blog component of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action welcomes content from SDCDEA members, guests and leadership.