Bitches Rock the Vote

Whether you’re a nasty woman, a bad hombre, or anything in between, your vote matters this year! There are about a million reasons why exercising your constitutional right is important. Today, however, we’re going to talk about environmental politics.

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This presidential election season has been one of the most alarming, confusing, and divisive displays of democracy our nation has seen… well, probably ever. I’ve heard countless people lament the state of our nation and the nominees who’ve been chosen, and many of those forlorn people have professed that they’re going to exercise their constitutional rights to participate in our democratic process by staying home and not casting a ballot at all.

This Sustainable Bitch would like to take a few moments to profess her campaign’s stance on voting, what’s at stake in this election, and why everyone’s participation is important. Bonus: Some pro-tips for making voting really, really easy!

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WTF Does Voting Have to Do with Sustainability?

Pretty much everything, as it turns out. Humans have done a cute thing in recent centuries: They’ve decided to place the health of our planet, including our oceans, land, waterways, food supplies, and air quality, among others, on the precariously-balanced scales of our legislative systems. Nations, states, and cities pass laws in accordance with their (often unscientific) values that determine what people can and can’t do to the environment. People are legally permitted or prohibited to completely f*ck up the planet largely based on the laws that have been passed throughout history.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Basically, that means that no person’s health or well-being should suffer because of the environment that they live in.

That’s a great ideal and all, but we see it fail–and the impacts of those failures–all the time. Let’s take our nation’s fossil fuel industry as an example.

Fossil Fuels and Global F*ckups: A Case Study

It’s estimated that 80% of the United States’ energy is produced from fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. All of those energy sources are carbon-based–that is, they have been created from smushing dead dinosaurs and plants, all of which were once made from carbon, under the ground for millions of years. Sexy, right?

Around 1850, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, mankind discovered that burning liquified dinosaurs would allow them to run their factories fairly cheaply. More production of manufactured goods meant more money, and more money meant more production of manufactured goods, and more money and more production meant more fossil fuels were being hoisted up from their slimy graves and burned to create steam to run motors and mills.

All that burning resulted in a noticeable increase in the Earth’s global temperatures over the course of several decades. All that burning also resulted in a lot of money in the pockets of manufacturers and fossil fuel tycoons.

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Since I’ve already outed myself as both a strident environmentalist and shameless feminist, I won’t further dig myself into a trench of left-wing insufferability by bothering you with my views on (*cough* the evils of *cough cough*) capitalism. Suffice it to say that, over time, incredible wealth poured into the pockets of the families who owned fossil fuel companies. From 1850 to now, some of our most powerful political leaders have risen to their prestigious posts by funding their incredibly expensive campaigns on money that came from the fossil fuel industries.

Scientists have cautioned the American public and our leaders about the looming dangers of climate change since the 1950s. However, many of our federal government’s senators, representatives, judges, and presidents have personally benefitted from the money that arises from the fossil fuel industry. Ergo, they have had vested interests in denying the existence of climate change and vetoing measures that would protect the environment so as to not disrupt the family business and preserve their own careers. George W. Bush, for example, seemed to have done some of this during his tenure as president.

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Did I mention that the ten warmest years on record within the last 134 have all occurred since 2000? I’ll just leave that there. *Sucks teeth.*

We Are All Responsible

It’s easy to blame one person or one political party for passing a bunch of regressive policies on climate change and environmental responsibility. But let’s not forget how these politicians come to power: They get elected. And we elect them.

Okay, okay, I know some of you are out there grumbling in outrage about how you think our entire political system is broken. And hey, maybe there’s even some merit to that argument, but hating on our current political system doesn’t stop our coral reefs from boiling to death, at least not in the next four years.

People don’t just fall into positions of power. George W. Bush, for example, was elected governor of Texas before America elected him as president. Obama was a senator from Illinois. And most of our senators and representatives were likely mayors or council members before that. And mayors and council people are all elected into their positions, too. For better or worse, voters elect the leaders who are responsible for making decisions about how our society functions, including how our society destroys or protects the environment. That is precisely why voting matters, now more than ever.

Donald Trump, for example, actually did say that he believed that climate change was a lie perpetuated by the Chinese to hurt American businesses.

Not to make my feminist and liberal biases any more obvious or anything, but Hillary Clinton has stated that she will seek to cut energy emissions in the United States by one third in her first term as president.

Every voter should do their own research on all the issues and make their own decisions about who they think would be the best person to represent the American people. But, if you care about the future of life on this planet as we know it, you might want to give some pretty heavy consideration to those stances before you enter the ballot box in a few days. Jus’ sayin’.

And It’s Not All about the President

Like I said, presidents are Congresspeople, mayors, and governors before they become world leaders. So pay attention to the other names on the ballot on November 8, too! Who is running for Congress in your state? Who is running for governor? What about your city or county council? What are their stances on climate change, sustainability, responsible agriculture, etc.?

Before you walk into the voting booth, do your research. Check out sites like OnTheIssues.org to see the political stances of the candidates who are running in your areas. Are you so overwhelmed by politics that you’re not even sure who’s running in your district? Well, it’s 2016, and there’s an app for that! Pay attention to the candidates’ positions on climate change, and vote for people who believe in passing actionable legislation to improve the environment. Avoid voting for candidates who have regressive views on the environment or climate policy.

Vote Like a Pro: Tips and Tricks

  • If you can, vote by mail in your state! Voting by mail is suuuper easy. Your ballot is sent right to your home, where you can lounge on your couch in sweatpants while you research each candidate. I did this in my district in California, and the entire process took me about 20 or 30 minutes, and I got to watch reality TV the entire time.
  • If you can’t vote by mail, find a sample ballot for your district online, and prepare your votes before you ever head to the ballot box. Write down the names of the candidates or ballot measures that you’re voting for, and take the list with you when you go to vote. Then, you can just fill in the bubbles when you get your ballot–a process that takes about 30 seconds. Bam.
  • Know your voting rights. Sadly, voter fraud and intimidation does happen, but knowing your rights as a citizen and voter can make it easier for you to cast your ballot. Know what identification you need before you show up to your poling place, and don’t let anyone turn you away if you have all of your information and you’re registered to vote. Voter intimidation is illegal, and anyone who intimidates you, unlawfully turns you away, or otherwise interferes with your vote could face fines or jail time. Report any instances of voter fraud or intimidation to the authorities immediately.
  • Talk to your friends and family about the issues that are important to you, and encourage them to do their research and vote, as well. Every vote counts!

So get out there and vote, America! We got this!

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