by Stephen Capra
We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. –Winston Churchill
The election that could not happen has occurred. Republicans were handed a miracle victory by the caliph known as Trump whose singular purpose appears to be the destruction of democracy. Like Jim Jones, the rogue minister who famously had his entire flock drink poisoned Kool-Aid, Trump has his sights on the destruction of America and the world as we know it. But it’s not Trump alone, it is the raging force of evil that defines the Republican Party and their hate and loathing for the freedom that is our natural world. With this unimaginable victory, they now will set their sights as Ronald Reagan, Bush one and two did, but with a zeal that we have likely never witnessed on the destruction of wildness. We must build the trenches and fortify our souls, for this is a fight to the death for all we love and understand. It is a fight for our planets survival.
In the days since the implosion of the Democratic Party, we are beginning to understand our new reality through the fog of war, Republican operatives are moving quickly to get a cabinet in place and move their radical and devastating agenda into the mainstream.
Trump is moving with haste to remove America from the global agreement to limit climate change, calling climate change a hoax. In quitting the Paris agreement that has been ratified by close to 200 nations, America risks setting a new precedent and unraveling the very accord, which while not perfect, is the linchpin for saving the planet.
Secretary of Interior: Lucas oil founder, Forrest Lucas has had the inside track. Lucas has paid for films that support puppy mills, elephants in circuses and would likely set the tone as an Oil Executive on the agencies priorities on climate change. Sara Palin (drill, baby drill!) has been a name many are talking about; Trumps sons, the elephant killers and gun lovers, have also been mentioned. If this occurs, Democrats MUST Filibuster the nomination and try and avoid cloture, which would require 60 votes. No nomination is more vital to our National Parks, Wilderness Areas, and Wildlife Refuges and for protecting wildlife than this choice. Frankly, Democrats should simply fight any appointment for the duration of this administration, taking a page from Republicans.
Energy: Trump is looking at fracking billionaire Harold Hamm who Trump greatly admires. He has made clear he wants an energy secretary that will slash regulations on energy producers and open more lands for development.
Department of Agriculture, which controls our National Forests, could be run according to Politico by one of two men: bio-fuels Baron Bruce Ramstetter, a close friend of Chris Christie, or Texas Agriculture Secretary Sid Miller who earned his credibility with Mr. Trump by calling Hillary Clinton a “cunt” on his twitter account during the campaign. He also gave amnesty to a cupcake to protest healthy food for school children. Trump has also created an Agriculture advisory committee. It includes as my fried Melissa Smith has pointed out, members like MI Sen. Mike Green, who said in a committee meeting on wolf hunting that, “he knows several people that have been eaten by wolves.” He went on to say-“Let’s get those public lands opened up to grazing, get rid of those predators now.”
Republicans will try to end the Environmental Protection Agency, remove endless regulations for Power Plants and destroy funding for alternative energy development, while handing out even more subsidies for coal, nuclear and oil. Climate Change will likely be ignored, treaties ignored and more misinformation will fill the airwaves to a nation of people increasingly removed from the natural world.
Republicans in the west, primarily Utah, Idaho and Wyoming will push for the selling off of public lands and move aggressively to end, once and for all, the Presidents use of the Antiquities Act, which has been responsible for protecting so many important land and marine environments since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. The reality is, they control all three branches of government and only the filibuster and tremendous public outcry can stop their rampage.
Trump has been elected in a unique and powerful manner. He is not in truth beholden to either party, but he needs the support of one to move his agenda. In two years when the party that does not control the Presidency often makes big gains in congress, Democrats must defend a staggering 25 Senate seats, many in states Trump won, making taking control of the Senate in 2018 difficult.
Rarely have we faced such long odds and the prospect of such damage to our sacred trust. While historically we have been able to fight off many of these assaults, republicans have learned from the days of Jim Watt and will likely come with an immense war chest, courtesy of the Koch Brothers, Big Oil and their friends in the coal and nuclear industries.
The conservation community must move aggressively and Democrats, including those 25 up in 2018 must hold firm, this goes beyond one person’s reelection, this is a fight for our children, a fight for sanity! Democrats have been far too timid on conservation issues, voting correctly, but doing so without the emotion, drive and confidence that show on a host of other domestic issues.
Wolves, bears and so many species that define wildness will be ground zero in the rancher’s wish list, look for funding for Wildlife Services to jump, a push to further control or denude the Bureau of Land Management. More illegal actions like the Bundys and threats to government control of public lands will likely come from fringe groups emboldened by the recent acquittals and Republicans fanning the flames of their illegal actions.
More than anything this band of Republicans, led by speaker Ryan, encased with the dreadful ignorance of Rep. Steve Pearce and his band of yahoos from the west must be crushed and publicly shamed in such a forceful manner, that they retreat from their continue assault on the liberty and beauty we all enjoy with our public lands and wildlife.
To see this as anything short of a declaration of war is to be blissfully ignorant. The actions of this congress and our newly elected President are designed to break the power and spirit of conservation in America. To hasten the demise of our planet and the many species which depend on our decisions for life. To turn wildness into roads, oceans into acid, to drown the great bears of the north, to fill more lands and waters with the suffering of animals that ask why?
The answer is to enrich a few, to poison the many, to ignore the obvious. We have elected a man who does not respect people and walks through life devoid of morality. How can we anticipate any more for the environment and the diversity it defines in his coming Presidency?
For the planet to survive, we cannot regress every four or eight years. We need both parties, not just one to embrace the environment. That is going to require a revolution in the republican party of today. Without it we are destine to repeat ourselves in cycles of destruction, which is the definition of insanity.
Trump has fooled us before and may again: I hope so. But the lineup he is creating is perhaps the most life-threatening for the planet we have witnessed. We as a nation have hit the bottom, so now we can begin the steady climb back up. We begin with an understanding that we must fight. All of us together for the land, the great animals that define our lives, for the freedom that is wildness and the planet we all cherish. Evil cannot win. But we must be strong, loud and demand justice if we are to prevail.
That is our fatwa for the earth.
So what can be done?
- It begins with a coordinated and aggressive push to educate the public and to make the environment a key issue with the new Administration. That will not be easy given the array of disturbing issues we face with this President and congress;
- Protest, often and loudly;
- The use of the filibuster will be essential;
- President Obama must take the last days of his Presidency to make the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a new National Monument. Ditto for the Bears Ears in Utah. If he does not, the refuge in particular will be lost to oil and gas development, destroying what many call America’s Serengeti. He would also be wise to look at another marine environment that could be threatened by drilling;
- Fight on a local level;
- Visits to all members of congress and send strong words to Democrat members will be essential to make sure they do not “trade off” environmental concerns for other legislative initiatives;
- Accept no compromise. These Republicans are trying to destroy our public lands, this is treason;
- Demand more from the Media. It is not enough to show both sides, you must do the hard work of telling the truth to viewers, readers and listeners;
- Become a voice for wildness;
- Give until it hurts: we need support.
What will Bold Visions Do?
- We are going to be the strongest voice possible to fight this Administration;
- We will continue to get out to the public to educate them about the reality of a Trump Administration;
- We will push the media and have our voice be heard;
- We will continue to write and produce films that are thought provoking and work to protect our lands, waters and wildlife;
- We will meet with elected officials to press for environmental and wildlife sanity;
- We will continue to come up with creative ways to voice our opposition to the undermining of our wildest public lands;
- We will work with other conservation groups in a unified manner to fight this battle;
- We will never surrender.