The Cacophony and the Response

Between the doom scrolling from the environmental news sites and the brisk trumpeting of national legislative scenarios, the cacophony at the federal level is deafening. The exciting proposals are coming fast and furious, bills are being posted in both chambers, and little of the activity is offered with context. What is the homer (the core of the matter)?

On the executive side, the Biden-Harris initiatives are already posted on the front page of Environmental Protection Agency. Biden has already made good on his campaign promise to weave climate change initiatives into any legislation and executive order he proposes. His orders on climate are assertive to perhaps, aggressive.

On the legislative side, or “up on Capitol Hill,” legislation is hogtied by the unfettered use of the filibuster in the short term and by Citizens United in the long term. Reforming the filibuster or eliminating it altogether will remove the impediment of 60 votes required for any legislation to pass in the Senate. Reforming would mean a return to standing at the podium and protesting non-stop instead of a declaring a filibuster and going home for dinner.

The Citizens United decision (Citizens United v Federal Election Committee) converted the Senate and the House of Representatives from a deliberative body into non-stop fundraising campaigns. Leaders of the parties are chosen by who raises the most money. With a blatant and unapologetic shift, legislation is too often written by those entities offering the money. Gerrymandering also plays a substantial role but securing a ban on the practice is dependent upon. . .money for the issue campaign.

Funny things happen though, and some call them “Acts of God.” Black-box PACs are learning more and more that money cannot buy everything. Americans complain, whine, and sometimes protest. They even vote. Some citizens talk to pollsters, even though most of us screen such unsolicited calls on our cell phones; the oldest cohorts are more likely to answer polls. Despite the shrill and misleading propaganda, climate change has risen from #20 to #5 on the “impending disasters my government should address” list.

The Jewish voice should now focus on alerting our state and national legislators that we expect action on climate change this session*. I liken such campaigns to texting your children, “We will be at your house in five minutes.” The second focus for the Jewish voice is a bit harder, because it requires government expertise: keeping abreast of regulatory changes at the federal departments and leaning in to hasten reform. “Science is back” at the EPA, but how quickly? The moral voice must demand the utmost speed from our bureaucrats because time is short.

*Unless you are in New York State, in which case you should be contacting your state senator and your assemblyman to pass the Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA), explained in shorthand as the funding mechanism for the NY Green New Deal.

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