By Ryan Westdock
Green Party of Virginia
It is easy to pick through Democratic propaganda, a process which has happened time and time again to sadly little avail. What is a bit harder, and vastly more important, is to state strong reasons for voting Green when that choice is available. There are many such reasons, some practical and some ethical, for doing so. Perhaps the strongest reason is that our platform is the only one that stands a chance of preserving human civilization as we understand it through the end of the century.
The Green Party is the only national party that accepts the science of climate change. Republicans deny that it exists, or that it is caused by human activity. Libertarians often do as well, or naively believe that the same market forces which caused climate change in the first place will somehow put a stop to it. Democrats nominally accept that climate change is occurring and human-made, but fail time and again to adopt policies that show they understand the depth of the crisis. In Virginia, for instance, Governor Ralph Northam routinely touts his commitment to addressing climate change. His commitments are praised by groups like the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as showing, “climate leadership.” He intends to have Virginia join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade system aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, such commitments and plans do barely anything to mitigate climate change. The Congressional Research Service’s evaluation of the RGGI in 2017 found that, “from a practical standpoint, the RGGI program’s contribution to directly reducing the global accumulation of GHG emissions in the atmosphere is arguably negligible,” while Northam’s insistence on joining other initiatives and alliances come with no binding changes on the way energy is used in Virginia.
Meanwhile, his actions indicate that he does not see climate change as a serious concern. Despite massive protests against them, the governor continues to push several fracked, natural gas pipelines on the state, most notably the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). These bridge fuels to nowhere will double the carbon footprint of the state. Greens, on the other hand, combine effective policy solutions with actions. We call for a Green New Deal that would create a just transition for workers out of the fossil fuel industry and into stable, high-paying jobs in renewables. We have been fighting these pipelines for years alongside the landowners in their path and the activists setting up tree sits – and we have joined with good folks from many parties to do that.
Some of these folks tell me they agree with the Green Party and its message. Republicans tell me they truly do believe in climate science, and Democrats tell me just about everyday that they are disgusted by Governor Northam’s hypocrisy. Yet they insist that they would never vote for a Green because Greens simply can’t win. Greens, however, hold just over 160 local offices around the country. We hold offices not just in the West Coast or Northeast, but in the Midwest, Southwest, and South as well. In Virginia, we have three elected officeholders, two folks on Soil and Water Conservation Boards and Wendy Smith on the school board in Appomattox County. In the past, we have held town council offices as well.
Republicans and Democrats may sneer at local offices, but often these are the positions from which people can have the largest impact in their communities. But even if the chance of a Green winning is low, it is imperative that Greens turn out to vote for them. A small chance of saving our planet is infinitely better than a guarantee of unmitigated climate change. And in Virginia, as well as nationally, that chance of success rests with the Green Party.