Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Wake

It has been less than a week since Donald Trump became president elect. The country is still deeply divided and along the west coast and several "liberal" areas, protests are being held. The internet is on fire with both supporters and detractors alike. But it is the supporters that I am intrigued by. Some expect to be excused for voting for Trump claiming it was some sort of protest vote against business as usual political parties full of career politicians.

Another common thread from what I've read is based on a backlash narrative. Claiming to be tired of being called racist or bigoted, working class white males voted for an outspoken and unafraid mans man. When the real truth is more like neither the republicans or the democrats managed to rally their base, and of the Americans who have actually registered to vote, a dismal 47% of them actually turned out.

Now I am basically a single issue voter. Progressive response to climate change is the single biggest issue we face. Sorry, but gender neutral bathrooms, gun control, tax revenue or employment, is not going to matter much if we fail to protect the natural systems that provide our food and drinking water. I can understand how a person well versed in the nuance of the business world with all of its complicated systems could be wholly ignorant of the equally if not more complex systems that make up our natural life support system.

There is only so much a single individual can really understand completely. In the sciences this is the specialization that makes so much of the most important research difficult for someone with out years of dedication to fully comprehend. Now, before I'm accused of being elitist, keep in mind that it is not isolated to sciences. Lawyers, mechanics, accountants, and many other professions seem to have a language all of their own.

Many Americans have found them selves in quite a bit of financial trouble after a tax audit, often times due to a mistake that could have been avoided if they consulted a professional. Not everyone knows how to tinker with the right parts or even where to look in the event of car trouble. The legal system is so complicated, we have mandated that anyone accused of a crime be provided with a lawyer. So when scientists who have been carefully collecting and analyzing data for decades of their lives deem it necessary to influence policy, giving equal voice to business interests, is akin to asking your doctor to replace the timing belt in your car, or having your mechanic attempt heart surgery.

We are at a critical junction collectively as a species, we have done amazing things throughout the world, mostly with the jump-start of fossil fuels. Now it is time to harness the core of the creativity that made that happen, and redirect it towards creating a sustainable future. Trump is 70 years old. He will not likely be around long enough to feel the most dramatic effects of the problems we face, but his influence at this pivotal time will be responsible for the severity and scope of them.