Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Corrosive Careerism

Author: Gary Hart

Even a cursory study of early American history reveals at least two widespread convictions among the Founders.  One was the dread of “factions”, what today are known as political parties.  The other was that service in public office should not become a profession.

Of course, a third conviction was the separation of powers and a system of checks and balances among the three branches of government.

It was not long before “factions”, i.e., political parties, emerged taking shape as Federalists and Republicans, with the division largely over the degree of power to be given to the national government.

It is now pretty well conceded that President Jefferson cut across his own convictions about national and concentrated powers to make the Louisiana Purchase.

Centuries later, we are now experiencing what happens when a president exercises arbitrary power backed by an improbable “base” made up of a faction of his Republican Party.  Members of Congress of his own Party rubber stamp his actions with greater or lesser degrees of conviction and do so in many cases silently, that is without explanation or justification.

The Founders would have seen their most dire warnings come true.

How could this happen?  Careerism.

Three decades ago, conservatives rallied around a cause called “term limits.”  Twelve and out.  Two Senate terms and six House terms.  Then go home.  That cause disappeared under two realities: even those who claimed not to like their government found it more appealing than going back to the farm, and even those who stepped out of office or were defeated stayed on in Washington to form the revolving door—lucrative lobbying careers.

Colorado was a hotbed of term limit fever, at least until the limit was reached.  Then, shamelessly, its most ardent supporters proclaimed that they were needed in Washington to push back against “big government” Democrats.  Besides, the perquisites of office were better than civilian life, they confessed in whispers to each other.

So now we have a ruthless, out of control President and acquiescent members of his Party who fear his “base” and believe holding onto office is more important than protecting the country.  All because of cowardice and careerism.

And now corrosive careerism is aided and abetted by insidious gerrymandering, a red nation and a blue nation.  You can spend the rest of your life in office in red States and districts, so long as you toe the line, that is support the increasingly autocratic President silently and unquestioningly.

Democrats among us must be willing to concede that careerism also exists in the blue nation.  But there is a broader base in the Democratic nation with a wider range of ideological belief and more open debate about the future of the Party and nation than in red America.  And there is much greater willingness to question leadership and orthodoxy than in confused conservatism.

What makes conservative careerism and a Trumpian dictatorship possible is a willingness to suspend traditional orthodoxy to serve a loony leader.  Now, deficits don’t matter.  Now, we throw principles to the wind to court dictators.  Now, the Party of conservation wants to privatize the public patrimony.  Now, we throw valuable allies to the wolves.  Now, we start trade wars.  Now, we abandon valuable alliances necessary for our security.

What is next?

We are on the cusp of a highly divisive struggle in our country, superseded only by the awful Civil War and few other occasions.  A President with no allegiance to the rule of law or the Constitutional balance of power has thrown down the gauntlet, defied Congress, and ordered his administration not to cooperate with lawful searches for information on a wide variety of fronts.  Meanwhile, his consigliare in the Senate rushes to stack the judiciary with friendly judges.

To the impeachment count of seeking political help from two foreign nation, specifically prohibited by the Constitution, he now adds the second count of blatant obstruction of justice.

Pray for the triumph of truth and justice.

Vinceremo

The Real Deep State

Author: Gary Hart

The only reason a President should hate his own government is when it won’t do what he wants it to.  What he wants it to do is to disregard the law, as he does.  So, when he orders something to be done that is illegal and the Executive branch, which he is supposed to administer, refuses to do an act contrary to the law, he and those who work with him and unquestioningly follow him accuse a mythical “deep state”.

Of course, there is no separate hidden state.  There is an administrative branch of government largely led by career civil servants.  They are there by their own choice and appointment to responsible positions by virtue of their experience and talent.

If the career civil service refuses to break the law, they do so because they are oath bound to do so, even if ordered to break the law by the President.

Donald Trump came to Washington to operate the Executive branch of government as he chose to do so.  He thought everyone in government worked for him and not the American people.  (FN: After taking the oath of office, I told my Senate staff they did not work for me, they worked for the people of Colorado and of the United States.)

Among the many myths Trump chose to believe, because of his ignorance of our system of government and our Constitution, this one angers him the most.  If my orders are not carried out, he fumes, there is a secret system out to get me.

It has never occurred to him that there is a much higher loyalty than to him.  The senior civil service is loyal to the laws passed by Congress and the regulations promulgated to carry out those laws.  Those laws cannot be abrogated by a President.  So, he appoints a Cabinet whose members set about dismissing duly enacted regulations by previous Democratic and Republican administrations.

This is especially true where the Obama administration is concerned and where regulations to protect the public lands, the environment, public resources, climate, wildlife, and a host of public recreation areas are concerned.  Privatize it all is his motto.  And Cabinet officers, largely wealthy lobbyists, are delighted to comply.

The only “deep state” that exists is the one he has created.  It exists to dismantle decades of public interest programs in virtually all areas and to privatize as much of the commonwealth as it can.  Even when Trump’s Party had majorities in both Houses of Congress, many Republicans did not want to vote to eliminate popular laws that worked.  Therefore, the dirty work would be done behind the scenes by self-interested Cabinet and sub-Cabinet loyalists who had no constituency to object.  All know they will be welcomed back into special interest land with handsome salaries to reward their efforts.

For a President and administration operating by principles of distraction, it makes perfect sense to attack a “deep state” that does not exist in order to distract attention from a deep state they have created.

And the Trumpian deep state now extends internationally.  We now know that the career foreign service officers represented by our Department of State have been decimated and are being replaced by inexperienced freelance hacks such as Rudy Giuliani to carry out impeachable offenses in Ukraine and who know where else.

We are now at a point where the national interest and the interests of all Americans are represented against Trump’s deep state by whistleblowers and watchdogs stunned by the immorality of this administration.

If the Republicans in the Senate protect their political careers by refusing to vote conviction on a House-passed impeachment indictment, then it will be up to a majority of Americans to shut down the Trump deep state at the ballot box.

What Is Going On?

Author: Gary Hart

From the founding of the United States in 1787 until the first impeachment of a President occurred, that of Andrew Johnson, 81 years transpired.  Thereafter, proceedings were brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.  Then William Clinton in 1998.  Now proceedings against Donald Trump are just underway.

Between Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon 106 years transpired.  In the past 45 years, there have been three impeachment proceedings.

What is going on here?

There are several possibilities.  Presidents are violating the Constitution more often.  Parties are using the impeachment option to overturn elections.  We are not electing the most upright Presidents.  Presidents are cutting legal, if not moral, corners more often.  The press and media are looking for sensationalism more.

Or, corruption of one kind or another is becoming more common.

Still, an impeachment procedure on average every 15 years is extraordinary.  We should spend time thinking why.  Is the discipline sometimes afforded by political parties breaking down?  Has big money totally polluted the political arena?  Are leaders and everyday citizens paying less attention to civic and civility standards?

Until recently, commentators would have said that political careerism has fostered an atmosphere where election and re-election are all that matters.  Then came the businessman that so many have longed for so long.  He is running the United States government the way he ran his businesses.  He sees no difference.  Run over competitors.  Refuse to pay bills.  Stiff the small services, suppliers, and contractors.  Tie up challenges in court until the plaintiffs are exhausted.

Paramount is: don’t be a “loser”.

The difference is the United States Constitution and the laws enacted by Congress.  That is why there are more lawyers than doctors in government.  Mr. Trump has given no evidence of having read, let alone understood, it.  For him, Constitutional governance is a nuisance.  He is bound by no rules or, for that matter, laws.

Devil may care is all well and good unless…unless you care about the kind of nation you leave your children and future generations.  Even a slight appreciation for true patriotism inevitably leads you to the rule of law.

Trump is pushing a peculiar brand of nationalism in which anything goes, and devil take the hindmost.  The populist brand of easy, chest-thumping nationalism comes at a time when the serious problems we face are increasingly global—security, pandemics, complex trade, mass migrations, and most of all climate destruction.

The Trumpian response to this is: leave us alone; we will dictate trade terms to one and all; we will build walls around our country; we choose to deny fact-based science; and our computers will destroy your computers.

This nihilistic approach is what has brought the country to the latest sad impeachment doorstep.  But it is still not enough to account for the pattern.

Sooner or later, every Member of Congress will have to vote whether to impeach and convict Donald Trump for blatantly enlisting a foreign government to intervene in our election by destroying one of his opponents.  If we lived in a time when facts matter and blatant facts blatantly matter, this case would be open and shut.  But for one party at least, they apparently don’t matter.

Still the question will remain: have we fallen down a political rabbit hole of government by impeachment?

The Nixon impeachment saga at least led to an era of political reform, one in which I was privileged to participate.  In revolving door Washington, it lasted not long at all.

This tragedy would be a blessing if it led to another era of reform, one that would last for generations to come.

 

Because Congress, particularly the Senate, refuses to do its Constitutional duties, Donald Trump is redefining the role of the White House and the executive branch of government.

Whether this new definition of permissible presidential behavior will survive Trump and become more or less permanent awaits judgment.  At the least, future presidents and administrations will be tempted to justify abhorrent behavior by saying, Well, Trump did it and got away with it; why can’t I?

As a partisan, my view is that this justification will be seen much less from future Democratic presidents than Republican ones.  There is little to no “equivalence” for non-Constitutional behavior from Democrats than Republican ones.  Think Nixon and Trump.

There is always the thought among political leaders that they can operate outside legal and normative guidelines if they are doing what they believe to be the right thing, the Constitution be damned.

That was certainly present in Franklin Roosevelt’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court.  But contrary to present experience, at least he made the attempt publicly not surreptitiously.

Donald Trump has given little or no evidence that he has read, let alone understood, our Constitution and its bedrock insistence on separate of powers and checks and balances.  Few if any Republicans in the Senate or House have held him to account.  They seem little concerned about putting career and Party over country.

History and the American people, sooner or later, will hold them to account.

Trump seems to be merging the worst of 19th century corrupt big city politics with marginal Mafia behavior.  Who else would list Roy Cohn as a hero and wish to have someone like him by his side?

We can now add his effort to use the leverage of withheld military assistance to the Ukraine to force it into intervention in his presidential campaign to all the many transgressions that have characterized the Trump presidency beginning even before his inauguration.

The new question for Democrats is whether this sordid matter is finally grounds for beginning a serious impeachment inquiry.  If so, we can be assured that a centerpiece of the Ukrainian mess will be the son of former Vice President Biden.  Pundits will burn up hours of television time and reams of newsprint trying to sort out the intricacies of the whole thing for busy Americans many of whom believe the “swamp” will never be drained, certainly by a president who is up to his waist in it.  “And the big muddy kept risin’”.

We must hope that whenever Trump finally decamps to Mar-a-Lago, serious scholars, the few remaining statesmen and women, and thoughtful analysts will help lift the ship of state out of the muck and begin the long struggle to reinstate Constitutional principles, respect for the rule of law, and ethical political behavior to our nation.

Otherwise, this and future generations of Americans will conclude our government genuinely does not deserve our respect and America will finally begin the descent into the history of failed democracies and republics.

That thought offers nothing but despair and brings tears to the eyes of true patriots and admirers of America throughout the world as the beacon of hope for a better future for all humankind.

I believe in the inherent decency and regenerative powers of America’s founding principles.  I refuse to believe that Donald Trump represents the future of our nation.  Perhaps the proof of those beliefs is now best demonstrated by a young woman and tens of thousands of others like her around the world demanding protection for the climate they are inheriting.

God bless them.

 

 

Culture versus Chaos

Author: Gary Hart

This is a political century in which virtually everything that happens is viewed by media and pundits alike for its political meaning.  By doing so, however, we may be missing more subtle truths.

Take Brexit, for example, the close vote in the United Kingdom to take it out of the European Union, its rules, its bureaucracy, and its distant government.  Distant because Brexit supporters made Brussels, the home of the EU organization, seem far distant from Manchester.

Viewed through the political prism, Brexit was pure nationalism and populism, a close cousin to Trumpworld.

But sober reflection by thoughtful people, including philosophers, sort through the Brexit ruble looking for deeper meaning.  For example, there is the factor of culture.  It is being suggested that at least some Brexiteers are localists versus globalists.

Localists are concerned, with varying degrees of sophistication, about the preservation of historic cultures against the tide of travel, trade, mass migrations, and instant communications that seem, almost overnight, to merge old cultures into a bland, hybrid, amalgam of international mush with no distinctive features, no history, no identifiable culture.

You don’t have to be terribly well read to know that England has an extraordinarily rich culture stretching back more than a millennium.

Those pushing back against cultural blurring more often than not use America as the ultimate global pattern where everything goes, there is a new style, movie, or food every day, yet nothing harkens back to a history or identity.

And perhaps this is about identity.  If everything merges and everything is like everything else, who am I, what are my roots, where did I come from?

This is not an argument for Brexit, America First, or any of the right-wing nationalistic populism that itself is damaging treasured histories of value.  It is an effort to explore whether nationalistic populism is the cheap authoritarian, often racist, tendency arising among the confusion brought on by globalization.

The impact of amalgamation is worrisome.  Why study American history, geography, and relatively brief culture if we are going to be like everyone else and everyone else is going to be like us?  Breaking down the meaning of history and events that have made us, as well as other nations, who we are is disturbing to many.

And that disturbance is being cynically manipulated by authoritarians who want to build walls, export immigrants in distress, and identify skin color with crime.

It will soon become necessary, if not already so, to separate out those seriously concerned with localism, national identity, and cultural preservation from the cynical politicians playing on fears and anxieties to acquire power.

The authoritarian tendency among Western democracies is a danger to democracy itself.

Whether in the United Kingdom, Hungary, or the United States, people of good will and good conscience must rise up to prove that history, national pride, and culture can be preserved even while the planet shrinks and borders are humanely maintained.

America with walled borders is our form of Brexit.  Make America Great Again, even though it was never not great, is our form of leave us alone, abandoning international trade and security agreements, and unnecessary and damaging trade wars.

When, possibly if, it finally happens Brexit will bring chaos to the U.K.  Another Trumpian term will do the same for us.

Presidents and Prime Ministers come and go.  Serious statesmen pick up after the ones who don’t know what they are doing.

We can both preserve the best of our respective cultures and identities even while adapting to a host of new realities.  That is how adults behave.

A Central Organizing Principle

Author: Gary Hart

Search as one might for one or more unifying principles that guide Trumpian government, there is none.

Underlying themes seem to be nationalistic and populistic.  But, like much with Trump, those are vague ideological concepts and lacking in cohesiveness.

The closest one can come, predictably, is a negative: destroy any vestige of the Obama administration, tear down its structures, plow under any remaining debris, and sow salt on the earth.

For all anyone knows in this epic disaster of an era, there is a Koch financed project to eliminate any reference to Barack Obama in future American history books.

In the continuing search for any semblance of coherent structure to Trumpian governance, this demented hostility to his predecessor and attempt to destroy all his works may offer an insight into the shambles of his foreign policy.

Consider the erratic list of initiatives: cordiality to Putin who tilted the US election Trump’s way; insistence on negotiations with Kim Jung-un even while he conducts new missile tests; cordiality to Saudi leaders who murder US journalists; and most recently a botched effort to get leaders of the Taliban, complicit in murdering 3,000 Americans on 9/11, to negotiate at Camp David.

No accounting for the strangeness of this behavior.  Except possibly one thing.  Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize and Trump has not.

Trump can’t take Obama’s prize away, but he can seek to match it.  And in his very confused mind about international diplomacy he thinks the way to do that is to pull a rabbit out of an unpredictable hat.

Even as evidence mounts of presidential behavior distant from normality and stability, and few defenders of his chaotic and unpredictable stops and starts, it may be that some irrational competition he sees with Obama could account for an otherwise patternless series of episodes in far flung parts of the world.

At this point, it is anyone’s guess as to why he does what he does and why so much of it makes so little sense.  It would require someone greatly skilled in the mysteries of psychiatry and the human mind to sort through the rubble.

But the lack of coherence and rationality invites speculation.  After all, it is only the survival of our nation at stake.

The search for coherence in the thought of one who does not demonstrate coherence is not an idle exercise.  In very short order we will enter election year.  Consider a president for whom the epithet “loser” is his strongest condemnation.  And consider his response to losing, especially as might happen he loses closely.

The possibilities for mayhem are almost endless: presidential demand for recounts in all close, that is to say “purple”, State like Colorado; allegations of voter fraud everywhere; emergency litigation filed in courthouses across the country; denial, despite evidence, of foreign (i.e., Russian) interventions; even efforts to demand the Republican Senate negate the election outcome and propose a new election.

The closer we get to November 2020, the more tensions will rise.

If ever statesmen and women are needed, it will be then.  And not all of them can come from the Democratic Party.  A looming catastrophe might be required to find out if there are any elected officials in the Republican Party who will once again put country before party and career.

That would be a central organizing principle worth pursuing.

The First Casualty

Author: Gary Hart

The journalistic principle has been: the first casualty of war is the truth.  The same can be said of every effort to hijack a democracy and make it an autocracy.

Our commentator Michael has persuasively argued that we are edging closer to autocracy in America than most people realize.

In How Democracies Die, the authors write: “Perhaps President Trump’s most notorious norm-breaking behavior has been lying.  The idea that presidents should tell the truth in public is uncontroversial in American politics.”

Most recently, at the G-7 summit, he sought to stabilize rattled markets brought on by his trade war with China by claiming to be in phone contact with Chinese leaders “at the highest level” to restart negotiations.  Problem is, it did not happen.  It was a lie.

He who controls the meaning of words wins the debate.  News is “fake” if it is not favorable to Trump.  For almost three years, the people of America, and the world, have been offered two different, often conflicting, narratives of reality…the factual one and the one that Trump makes up.

Trump intuited early on that he could render any statement he wished, whether factual or not, and his “base” would believe him.  Roughly a third of the American people have accepted a view of the world outside the realm of facts and truth.

This is how autocracy works.  Ask Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, and many others.  What I say is true.  Do not believe anything else.

Unhinged from reality and truth, democracy cannot survive.

From our Founding, our ability to function as an increasingly mass democracy depended on confidence of the people in their government.  Confidence is built on trust.  Trust is earned by honest dealing and adherence to facts and truth.

When the autocrat declares truth to be “fake”, and a large majority know it is not, trust is breached and confidence in government fails.  To its shame, the Senate Republican majority aids and abets this demonstrably deceitful president by its silence.

These untrustworthy politicians may be clinging to their red-State careers, but at the price of their integrity and the foundation of our government in truth and reality.

The tension in a great nation divided between two realities, one genuine and the other demonstrably fake, cannot last for long.  It is schizophrenia on a massive scale.

Next year we will either opt to return to truth and reality or we will take another giant step down the road to autocracy, untruth, and propaganda.

Trumps systematic affinity for autocrats and dictators in Russia, North Korea, Brazil, and Central Europe is predictable.  He longs to create their nationalistic systems in America.  He   admires their power and control and wishes to govern as they do.  The problem is that it is not democracy, and certainly not a democracy with Constitutionally shared and balanced power.

The only way he can by-pass America’s history and its Constitution is to subvert the truth, to convince enough of our countrymen and women that his version of reality is preferable to a version based on truth and facts.

As an amateur American historian, I can find no parallel.  There is an argument that the groundwork for a Trumpean era was laid by Vietnam, Watergate, and deceptions by intelligence agencies and the Administration they served.  We were lied to by leaders of both parties with intelligence and military complicity.  It took considerable toll in public confidence in government.

Trump has seen those cards and raised.  By its complicity and silence, his party will suffer in years to come.  When a revival of honesty in government returns, as it must, an accounting by those complicit in his lies will be demanded.

It must begin next year.  If not, it could be too late.

Acts of Civility

Author: Gary Hart

As a follower of the McCain Institute, I received a communication recently from Cindy McCain, John’s widow, which read in part as follows:

“It is with this spirit of civil discourse and bi-partisan collaboration in mind that my family and I plan to mark the anniversary of John’s passing by engaging in #ActsOfCivility. John’s commitment to civility and serving causes greater than ourselves was unwavering and something we must not abandon without him.”

My act of civility will be to work harder toward the launch this fall of the Hart Center for Public Service at Metropolitan State University here in Denver.

The Center’s goal is to restore the ideal of republican duty and civic engagement without which our nation will not achieve its purpose and highest principles.

Public service does not require a political office.  Indeed, it has always been the understanding that the highest office in a democracy is that of citizen.

Many young people would benefit as I did from serving in some governmental capacity at the local, State, or national level for a few years.  Not everyone can do that.

But each of us can find a way to volunteer some time for a community program, a State project, or even a national program dedicated to alleviating homelessness, hunger, illness, or illiteracy.

Public service itself is an act of civility.  It makes us all better, the one who performs the service and the community it improves.

There has been a drumbeat over the past forty years that “the government is the problem.”  I am of the generation challenged sometime earlier to “ask what you can do for your country.”

Government is the problem only when it is mismanaged for the benefit of the few, the wealthy and the powerful.  When all of us partake in our government, it becomes the means by which we make our society better and more civil.

So, follow Cindy McCain’s leadership.  In honor of Senator John McCain’s service to America, undertake your own act of civility on the anniversary of his death.

If you do, his memory will not die, and the already great United States will continue to march on.

Gary Hart

 

 

 

 

 

Conversation With My Son

Author: Gary Hart

“There is a constant stream of meanness in what they’re doing”, John said.  It is a unifying observation.  Immigrant children denied their parents.  Wilderness areas and national parks opened to drilling and exploration.  Farm bankruptcies brought on by trade wars.  Endangered species removed from protection.  Overt and covert encouragement of nationalism.  Taunting of political rivals.  Recurring racist references.  Virulence toward the media.  Sleepless tweets, all attacking someone or someones.

Not simply rough and tumble politics.  But mean.

Exploring the mentality of meanness is fraught.  The question becomes “why”.  What kind of mind, what darkness of spirit, produces a steady stream of meanness?

Meanness dwells in a separate, deeper stratum from anger.  Anger has an object that is usually, though not always, identifiable.  Someone can make you angry.  An inner demon makes you mean.

That same demon is the enemy of empathy.  Empathy is the ability to identify with another person, to feel their often sorrowful emotions.  Has this president ever, once, exhibited compassion?  He has no empathy gene.  He is all ego.

To skip lightly over Biblical admonitions to care for the earth and the creatures God created on it is justified in conservative circles as getting rid of “burdensome government regulations” in the interest of private profit.  This is being achieved across the wide spectrum of the Trump administration in virtually all government agencies.

Those agencies and departments are now virtually all in the hands of industry lobbyists and corporate executives busily dismantling four, five, or more decades of bipartisan legislation and regulation created in response to public demand, demonstrable need, scientific evidence, and national stewardship.

The “patriots” who claim to love their country but hate its democratic government have found a new crowbar in their toolbox—dividing up segments of the Interior and Agriculture Departments, shipping them off to disbursed areas around the country in the interest of “returning government closer to the people”, and downsizing them by attrition, because professional career civil service experts do not care to uproot families and fracture important collaboration with colleagues.

The “deep state” government Trump discovered was not a Democratic cabal left behind to frustrate him but rather the career civil service committed to enforcing regulations and laws mandated by successive Congresses.  How better to dismantle it than fracture it and ship it to various parts of the country.  Lives and professional networks disrupted?  Too bad.  There is a meanness, in addition to dishonesty, to this.

The meanness at the very heart of this administration and White House is such that it frightens Republican members of Congress into silence.  Career before country.  Re-election looms and there is the “base” to consider.

Autocrats and dictators throughout history have demonstrated meanness in the interest of control.  The meanness required to threaten and punish is sufficient to dictate loyalty.

The balance of power in our government was meant to prevent that kind of meanness-based power.  The Founders feared the “man on a white horse” not because of the attractiveness of the horse but because such a man could turn mean.

Even then, the Founders believed their fellow countrymen and women to be of sufficient republican virtue to send a mean autocrat packing, with or without his horse.

John’s comments brought our current baffled national dialogue, if it can be called that, to a new and deeper level.  What causes a president to become mean?  Possibly he has always been mean, and there is some evidence of that.

Fear is a powerful force.  Using fear of immigrants, trade partners, even our own allies, an innately mean national figure can descend to a level of meanness hitherto unknown.

And that is where we find ourselves.

There is such a thing as national character, what we would call the American character.  If that character is what I have always believed it to be, we will soon drive our current meanness from the national stage.  If not, God help us.

No one is quite sure how issues of public concern struggle up a hill of public unawareness before reaching the summit—the tipping point of public consciousness—and then start rolling downhill picking up speed, momentum, and wide-spread concern.

There are, of course, many instances of this: civil rights; equality for women; air and water quality; nuclear weapons, and many other major issues that started as remote causes and then became of general concern for the nation.

We may be witnessing something like this concerning climate damage.  If so, it could play a decisive role in the 2020 election.

Even so, climate destruction will not replace health care and immigration at the top of the political pyramid.  But with a number of Senate and House contests that are close, as well as the presidential contest, if climate concern has reached the tipping point in public consciousness, it could well determine the next occupant of the White House as well as governing majorities in both Houses of Congress.

Recent history will credit former Vice President Al Gore, as well as others such as former Senator Tim Wirth, for identifying climate damage early on, lead by the scientific testimony of experts such as Dr. James Hansen and others reaching back to the 1970s and even before.

Other scientists and elected officials in the 1970s and 80s also issued warnings and sought to focus public attention.  But we were drowned out by a small handful of so-called experts on the payrolls of energy and auto companies and others benefiting from unrestricted carbon emissions in the private sector and relied on by conservatives eager to avoid the issue and its dire consequences.

Some of these occupied the never-ending circle of campaign contributions and mutual reliance.  Others were trapped in an ideology based on resistance to government laws and regulations and wrote off the warnings as liberal nonsense.

There are signs this may be changing.  Republican “strategists” are beginning to warn of a climate backlash in next year’s elections.  The scientific chickens are coming home to roost in the form of rising temperatures, increased violent storms, massive flooding, crop damage by too little or too much water, damage to housing and retail outlets, record heat levels, and much else.

The shrinking band of climate deniers will continue with the mantra “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes”.  But even those slow to change and slower to admit crisis sooner or later confront clear evidence and hard truth.

As evidence, consider the number of conservative candidates, especially those seeking re-election, now admitting “something must be done” to address climate destruction.  In too many instances their remedies are token at best.  But they cynically hope it will help them squeeze by without alienating corporate contributors still seeking to dump their last few million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

Which brings back a pet peeve.  Do these corporate executives and their political protectors not have children?  Do they overcome sleepless consciences by pretending that their accumulated wealth will permit their children, as distinct from everyone else’s children, to locate living space somehow with its own pristine climate?

What folly!  What nonsense!  What arrogance!  What utter lack of any sense of shared humanity.

Regardless of ethnicity, color, religion, race, or gender, there is one thing our Creator has decreed: we all share the same climate.  The greedy, unconcerned executives and their hired political enablers can sail their gilded yachts to the far corners of the earth.  And guess what?  They will find the same storms, the same heat, the same rising tides as the rest of us.

Have fun on your new colony on Mars, folks.  The rest of us are going to continue our struggle to clean up the mess a hundred and fifty years of industrial pollution now deposited on our global doorsteps.

Hopefully, it is not too late.