A couple weeks ago I was whining to friends about how I used to vote for candidates from both parties. In politics, talk is cheap, so I look for those who have a positive voting record in support of clean air, clean water, etc. you know . . . environmental protection. Given this yardstick, I asked my friends to name a Republican today I could support . . . nationally or locally. Blank looks.
It was suggested I consider more than a single issue, and not get caught up as some do, for example, voting strictly for or against gay rights, or abortion rights, or gun control, or health care. Trouble is, without our life support system intact, all other issues are moot. Environment is not liberal or conservative, it’s about life and death. It’s an indicator that the candidate in question is serious about a healthy world for children . . . rather than simply focusing on personal enrichment or prejudice. As issues go, it’s kinda sorta like the queen of spades, a.k.a. the “shady lady.”
My father-in-law enjoyed poker and taught me several versions. In one, the queen of spades (“the shady lady”) trumped everything else. When the dealer declared, “shady lady,” this meant that whoever had the queen of spades took the pot (or at least shared it). You could have four aces, a full house, or a flush . . . it didn’t matter. The “shady lady” had the final say.
Like the shady lady, environment is fundamentally powerful, subtle, and lethal. Fact is, when we degrade our environment, we harm ourselves. Public health depends on environmental quality. Long term economic health is similar, dependent on sound ecological infrastructure.
Aldo Leopold put it well: “Civilization has so cluttered this elemental man-earth relationship with gadgets and middlemen that awareness of it is growing dim. We fancy that industry supports us, forgetting what supports industry.”
With the election approaching, take some time to review conservation voting records. I did a quick review of Sierra Club candidate endorsements. Not a single Republican candidate in Wisconsin has earned support. Illinois GOP fared slightly better . . . while the vast majority of endorsements favor Democrats, there are a least a couple Republicans who’ve earned support. But they’ve become an endangered species. Google Sierra Club endorsements.
There’s a great site that will help you easily review what specific politicians have been up to: votesmart.org.
The League of Conservation Voters rates a wide range of politicians, in terms of their support for (or hostility toward) conservation. Just go to: lcv.org.
When politicians say they favor economic growth, but their environmental voting record is down near zero, this is a major Red Flag. They either don’t understand sustainability, or don’t think about posterity.
Be sure to vote November 4th!
Dale Goodner lived and worked in Peoria for more than 30 years. He was supervisor of environmental and interpretive services at the Peoria Park District. He now lives and volunteers in Wisconsin.