Why the US Midterms Are Important
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The US midterm elections are this week, and I have to say, I’m excited! However, as a Canadian living in Japan, I found I’ve also had to defend my interest. US politics can certainly be dramatic and monopolize a lot of attention on English speaking media, but the rest of the world is also potentially justified in asking, “Why Bother?”
As a global superpower the US definitely demands attention. The size and scale of the US military forces is obscenely vast (see Is It Big Enough?). But so too is their soft power. Hollywood movies and notions of the “American Dream” continue to catch international attention.
Along with the many citizens we meet abroad, there’s also plethora of new discoveries, research, and inventions that comes out of the country constantly. It seems valid enough to know what’s going on there. On the other hand, that same curiosity can also lead viewers and readers down an over-hyped vortex of information, opinions, and straight-up craziness.
A Major Player
Still, despite all the media coverage, and potentially excessive publicity (especially under the current administration), it is my opinion that US politics are still totally worthy of attention. Coming from the sustainability mindset, and being very much concerned with climate change, how can we not look to what is happening in the US. Not only are we all in this together as global citizens, but the USA also happens to be the world’s largest economy.
This is especially relevant when we understand that this was achieved in part by being the world’s largest consumer. Furthermore, the US is currently the second largest emitter of greenhouses gases (Union of Concerned Scientists), as well as being the largest in carbon polluter if we factor in its history (NY Times).
Patriotism vs Nationalism
Since the election of Donald Trump as president, the US has taken a hard turn from international cooperation and multilateralism (aka many friends). The executives currently occupying the White House are all about America First. In fact, Trump has been recently referring to globalism/globalists as derogatory, while highlighting himself as a nationalist (The Washington Times).
This is obviously wretched in light of the need to work collectively in the face of climate change. Global warming is by definition a global problem, and effects all life on this planet, including the US. Furthermore, the US has a considerable responsibility for this warming given the amount of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases it contributes, and has contributed over the decades. The scientists have warned us that we need to act, and act quickly (see Running Low on Time)!
However, instead of the rapid and significant changes that are needed to protect the people, plants and animals of this earth, our countries are increasingly led by isolationist governments. Just last week, Brazil elected an extreme right president that wants to do away with environmental protection for the people and rainforests of the Amazon (see How to Help in Brazil). It’s truly disheartening to see this happening.
But this blog is called Sustainably Motivated, and I want to share with you the positive news and developments that are occurring! As much as there is a rise of a political right that is fueled by fear and hatred, there is also an equal rise of activists that are fighting for social justice and environmental protection (check out Greta Thunberg for instance).
Fighting For Justice
There is a very clear and distinct difference between nationalist and patriot. Whereas a nationalist will put their own country first at the expense of others, a patriot is someone who feels respect and admiration for their own country. A means of demonstrating that respect is by going out to vote. It’s the very minimum, but at this point in our story it’s becoming increasingly critical (see Saving Democracy). The future needs people to care, and care immediately about who’s running things and how.
Thankfully, it does look like more people are getting involved for these upcoming midterm elections, with a record number of registered voters! Seeing the increased passion and political interest, I do have hope that things will change.
While the US Democrats aren’t environmentally minded as a whole, I really want them to flip the houses (win a majority in Congress & Senate). If they won’t start putting forth more progressive legislation, at the very least they can put a curb to some of the madness coming from this current administration. Fingers crossed!🤞
To My US Readers: Thank you so much for going out to VOTE during the midterms and encouraging as many people as you can to do the same.
Click the image below for details on how and where to vote.