It is time to say the unsayable: Republicans in Congress––and a disgraced former president–– are intent on committing an act of politicide. Climate change and the rapid spread of Covid are ravaging the world and threatening to destroy the lives and futures of millions in the USA and abroad. By substituting lies and conspiracy theories for scientific facts they attempt to rewrite history and disrupt proven solutions to both threats.
With regard to Covid, it is a fact that it can be defeated by universal vaccination, and abated by the wearing of masks. Combined, these two actions would free us from the pandemic’s deadly grasp. Yet Republicans, from state legislators and governors to members of the House and Senate, are fanning flames of misinformation and protest. While the pandemic’s Delta Variation sweeps the nation like a California wildfire, elected Republicans are cheering on those who see mandated vaccinations and mask-wearing as intrusions on their personal sovereignty.
Unlike the pandemic, the deadly effects of climate change are so advanced that they cannot be totally beaten back, but they can be managed and moderated by a global commitment to changing how we fuel our lifestyles. America and China are the two leading contributors to the climate crisis, and therefore have an obligation to lead by the example of their actions.
Is Global Warming a Hoax?
The president and Democrats in Congress have been championing proposed climate solutions for decades—from President Carter’s solar panels, to Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”, to the Green New Deal proposed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Republicans, on the other hand, have ridiculed even the idea of global warming, calling it a liberal hoax and blocking any legislative attempt at a substantive response to what is certainly a coming world-wide disaster.
The facts are clear: The virus, and the warming planet’s fires, floods, and powerful storms are killing and dislocating people around the world. Lives that should never have been in danger are being lost. This would be tragic in any case. However, when we know that we have the tools to combat the disease and to moderate the effects of climate disasters and we fail to use them— it goes beyond tragic. So we must ask: When a clear majority of the American people support mandating vaccinations and mask wearing why are Republicans in state houses and the halls of Congress so dead set on torpedoing both?
Likewise, a majority of Americans believe that dealing with climate change is an emergency, yet Republican leaders continue to ridicule Democrats’ call for urgent action as hysteria. They manufacture lies and stories about climate control action destroying the economy and jobs. Under the twice-impeached previous president, government agencies were required to strike the phrases “climate change’ and “global warming” from their publications. Republicans in both houses of Congress fought against regulations designed to curtail climate-warming gases and reduce pollution from power plants and automobiles. Again, as in the case of Covid, the operative question is “why?”
The answer to both is as frightening as it is simple: As Covid cases and deaths increase, President Biden’s poll numbers decrease. As their climate trashing increases, the Republican anti-science base strengthens. It is clear to me that in their quest for increased power, Republicans have made a strategic decision to sacrifice lives to the disease, and to sacrifice the future of our grandchildren to environmental destruction.
These are actions of politicide. Americans are being killed by Covid, and are dying in violent storms, fires and flooding. Yet, Republican politicians accept this death and destruction in a desperate quest to increase their own power by diminishing the popularity of a Democratic president.
The realization of how bizarre the reaction to the misinformation strategy has become was made clear to me a couple of weeks ago during a drive to Raleigh. I pulled in to at a rest stop and while washing my hands, the man standing to my right asked, “Why are you still wearing that mask?” I told him it was to protect myself from unvaccinated people who refused to mask up. His response was that the Covid threats were nothing but liberal hysteria. When I pointed out that people were dying from the pandemic, he responded, “Yes, and we should honor them. They are martyrs for liberty.”
The Blessings of Liberty
In the preamble to The Constitution of the United States of America, the drafters wrote that one of the purposes of the document was to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” I do not believe that by “liberty” they meant that individuals have a right live their lives in a way that endangers the lives of their fellow citizens. I think, in its entirety, the Constitution calls us to live in such a way that the present-day becomes fertile soil in which to grow the hopes and dreams of our posterity.
I closed my July 15 post with a thought from a prayer offered at Archbishop Óscar Romero’s memorial service: “We are the prophets of a future not our own.” To my brothers and sisters in the Silent and Boomer generations I say: Let us remember that the future is not ours. It belongs to our posterity. We should be supporting policies that strengthen their vision of the future rather than desperately holding on to our ever-weakening grasp of the present.
Bill Jamieson’s career has included leadership positions in business, government, and education. He was also an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and his ministry centered around advocacy for low-income families and children.