Electing a Moderate or Leftist Democrat Won’t Save Planet Earth

(excerpted from longer piece published in LA Progressive on August 28, 2019)

By JIM LAFFERTY

The debate within the Democratic Party, and among Americans opposing the re-election of Donald Trump, over whether the party should nominate a candidate from the “moderate wing” or the “liberal wing” of the party, misses the much more critical debate that all Americans should be having: Whether the election of any candidate in the Democratic Party, since it, like the Republican Party is a capitalist party, offers the slightest hope of arresting climate change in time to save humankind from a life of extreme deprivation and barbarism?

In the New York Times Sunday Review, (February 17, 2019), an article titled “Time to Panic” tells us that, “In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released what has become known as its ‘Doomsday’ report — ‘a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen,’ as one United Nations official describes it.” And as the Times article goes on to point out, after several decades of reticence on behalf of the world’s climate scientists, lest they be accused of panicky over-reaction, “It is O.K. finally, to freak out. Even reasonable.”

It is my contention that by now it should be clear to all people willing to face the facts squarely, that it’s actually long past time to “freak out,” and that climate change won’t be genuinely and meaningfully addressed so long as we have a capitalist government. It’s too late for wishful thinking; for hoping against all of our better judgment that the capitalist class will finally come to its senses and “do the right thing.”

Consider: In recent years, despite more awareness and acceptance by the capitalist class that climate change is real and has a “human-cause,” and despite more efforts to “go green,” in each of the past several years more, not less, greenhouse gasses were annually released into the atmosphere. In simple terms, our house — planet Earth — is now on fire. And there is simply no evidence, given the very nature of capitalism, that the capitalist form of governance can put out this fire in time to save our planet.

Already millions of people have been left homeless as a consequence of climate change. A front-page headline in the August 6 New York Times proclaims, “A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crisis,” and the tag line states, “Climate change is making the problem worse.” Annual reports from various global climate change scientists and agencies make it clear that the problem is accelerating even faster than first feared.

Millions of us should be in the streets demanding an end to capitalist exploitation of the earth’s resources and the establishment of a socialist government fully committed to drastic regulation of what we produce, how much we produce, and how it is produced.

We can’t elect our way out of this crisis next November, no matter who wins the presidential and Congressional election.

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Jim Lafferty is the executive director emeritus of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles. He is also a member of the steering committee of Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP).

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