Though we’ve known for four years that the 2020 US election cycle would be even more fraught than the strange and painful fall of the 2016 elections, most of us still find ourselves a little disoriented these days. For some, the urgency to remove Trump from office has immobilized us. For others, it’s fortified us into action to get out the vote and to sway those who are undecided, apathetic, and reluctant.
In the final five weeks before the election of a lifetime, we asked writers to consider the undecided voter and contribute compelling arguments and ideas for making the world right. Some contributors sent us work that takes on issues with precision and gravity. Others sent us different work, perhaps an even more visceral snapshot of this alarming moment — a one-act play, an open letter, a story of exile. New writing will be published weekdays; we believe its wisdom and strength will help us all navigate the uncertainty ahead.
If you are like me, you believe in climate change. If you are like me, you often look on, with great pain, at the ways in which our country has deluded itself about what should be a straightforward issue, something that we can all unite behind, because it affects all of us. And if you are like me, this was one of the reasons you were attracted to someone other than Joe Biden in the Democratic Primary. You wanted a candidate who embraced the Green New Deal, who would take decisive, unapologetic action on climate change, to save our planet and ensure a livable future for ourselves and those who come after us. If this was you as well, I have some good news: Joe Biden is now that candidate.
As writer and climate activist Julian Brave Noisecat noted in The Guardian this summer, Biden has released “the most ambitious clean energy and environmental justice plans ever proposed by the nominee of a major American political party.” Biden’s plan includes: historically deep cuts to the country’s carbon emissions; a commitment to reenter the US in the Paris Agreement; and trillions of dollars of investments in green jobs and infrastructure. Crucially, Biden’s policies stipulate that historically disadvantaged communities will receive 40 percent of these investments. This is a plan that recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis. It is a plan that acknowledges that there can be no climate justice without social justice. It is, as Noisecat wrote, “a Green New Deal in all but name.”
Experts tell us that, when it comes to climate change, these next few years will be decisive. Here in California, we are living through another heart-rending fire season. Nearly four million acres in the state have burned. As I sit here writing, my best friend is evacuating his home in Sonoma County, which is under threat from the developing Glass Fire. A few years ago, his barns burned down in the Adobe Fire (his house miraculously survived). When I spoke to him on the phone, he told me that he was hopeful firefighters could stop the blaze from moving through the forest above his house. “I can’t go through that again,” he said. This is our new reality, and it is relentless. In the past couple of months, fires have destroyed whole towns and millions of Californians have been forced inside, seeking shelter from the noxious, smoky air, which has consistently ranked among the worst in the world. And it’s not just California anymore: Oregon and Washington are burning at unprecedented rates. This August alone there have been violent windstorms in the Midwest, supercharged hurricanes in the South, and drought across the Great Plains. Climate change is here and we are running out of time to prevent its escalation. You know this and I know this, and that is why, regardless of whatever reservations you have about the Democratic Party (I, myself, have many), we must get out and vote, and organize our communities to vote, for Joe Biden.
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Daniel Gumbiner is the author of The Boatbuilder, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the California Book Awards. He lives in Oakland, CA and works as the managing editor of The Believer.