3 Jun 2017

How Donald Trump’s Presidency Could Inadvertently Lead To A Far Less Powerful Washington D.C.

By Michael Krieger: Before I get started, I want to make it completely clear up front that while I will be discussing the Paris climate change agreement in this post, I am only doing so to make a much broader point about where we are as a species and where I think we need to go. In a nutshell, I believe
a large percentage of people on this planet posses a slave mentality which essentially revolves around authority worship.
I consider this to be comparable to a mental illness. It doesn’t matter whether that authority is Trump, Hillary or the UN, the sickness manifests itself in the same ways. There’s this conception that big government bodies, or powerful elected political figures, are indispensable when it comes to telling us what to do or how to think. Too many people prefer not work on themselves as individuals, and would rather be told what to do by an authority figure. This is perverse, unhealthy and it stunts the growth of the species.
I’m not in the camp that sees these United States as hopelessly divided. In fact, on many issues of existential importance, such as imperial militarism abroad, crony capitalism, Wall Street bailouts, the two-tiered justice system and some others, I think most Americans are very much on the same page. That said, there are definitely certain issues Americans are emphatically and passionately divided on, and divisiveness on these issues tends to prevent widespread unity on the others. Climate change, what causes it, how to stop it (or even if we can) is one of those issues.
It’s important to read the rest of this post without obsessing over your own personal opinions on the topic of climate change. The reason I am bringing it up at all, is to highlight the different ways people have responded to Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement. We see both a productive response, and a lunatic response.
First, let’s take a look at the lunatic response (and my response to that response), courtesy of billionaire Tom Steyer.

If anything, that sort of commentary will push people on the sidelines of the issue in the exact opposite direction. When it comes to climate change, the views of Americans are very much divided by political party, which in turn tends to divide at the state level, which then divides even further at the local level. The point is, there are pockets of communities within the country overwhelmingly in favor of renewable energy mandates, and pockets vehemently opposed to them.
Communities can have a lot to say on the subject, so having the Federal government decide one way or the other should not be seen as the end all be all for this issue (or most others), but a starting point. Indeed, it is far more empowering to have grassroots movements take action at the local level on a range of issues as opposed to expecting the corrupt and unrepresentative federal government to do anything useful.
Cannabis legalization is the best example in modern times. The Feds weren’t about to do anything about it, and still cling on to the absurd categorization of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with zero medicinal benefits. Us Coloradans were warned of doom and gloom when the people passed Amendment 64 by referendum, but here’s what actually happened…

For proponents of clean energy, the best action is to stop hyperventilating about Trump and get off your ass and do something. This is particularly important if you think the ocean is about to swallow up half the world’s landmass. If you really expect this, there’s a better use for your time than lecturing Republicans who aren’t listening anyway about how they’re “anti-science.”
Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what some communities are doing and I applaud them for it. I applaud them for the type of action being taken, and the lessons we can learn in order to apply the tactic with regard to other issues. Rather than endlessly lecturing others on why they’re stupid and dumb, go ahead and walk the walk yourself. Lead by example, not by coercion. If you want more renewables, rally your community and build more renewables. Stop obsessing so much about the UN, Donald Trump and red states.
This is in fact happening, as reported by The New York Times:

Representatives of American cities, states and companies are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.
The unnamed group — which, so far, includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses — is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations.
By redoubling their climate efforts, he said, cities, states and corporations could achieve, or even surpass, the pledge of the administration of former President Barack Obama to reduce America’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025, from their levels in 2005.
It was unclear how, exactly, that submission to the United Nations would take place. Christiana Figueres, a former top United Nations climate official, said there was currently no formal mechanism for entities that were not countries to be full parties to the Paris accord.

I find that part funny. Stop worrying so much about submitting paperwork to the UN and just do your thing. Bureaucracy worship doesn’t die easily.

Still, producing what Mr. Bloomberg described as a “parallel” pledge would indicate that leadership in the fight against climate change in the United States had shifted from the federal government to lower levels of government, academia and industry.
Mr. Trump’s plan to pull out of the Paris agreement was motivating more local and state governments, as well as businesses, to commit to the climate change fight, said Robert C. Orr, one of the architects of the 2015 Paris agreement as the United Nations secretary-general’s lead climate adviser.
On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Gov. Jerry Brown of California, all Democrats, said they were beginning a separate alliance of states committed to upholding the Paris accord.
“The electric jolt of the last 48 hours is accelerating this process that was already underway,” said Mr. Orr, who is now dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. “It’s not just the volume of actors that is increasing, it’s that they are starting to coordinate in a much more integral way.”
But in a draft letter to António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, Mr. Bloomberg expressed confidence that “non-national actors” could achieve the 2025 goal alone.
“While the executive branch of the U.S. government speaks on behalf of our nation in matters of foreign affairs, it does not determine many aspects of whether and how the United States takes action on climate change,” he wrote.
“The bulk of the decisions which drive U.S. climate action in the aggregate are made by cities, states, businesses, and civil society,” he wrote. “Collectively, these actors remain committed to the Paris accord.”
Cities and states can reduce emissions in many ways, including negotiating contracts with local utilities to supply greater amounts of renewable energy, building rapid transit programs and other infrastructure projects like improved wastewater treatment. Similarly, corporations can take measures like buying renewable energy for their offices and factories, or making sure their supply chains are climate-friendly.
Governor Inslee said that states held significant sway over emissions. Washington, for example, has adopted a cap on carbon pollution, has invested in growing clean energy jobs and subsidizes electric vehicle purchases and charging stations.
“Our states will move forward, even if the president wants to go backward,” he said in a telephone interview.
Jackie Biskupski, the mayor of Salt Lake City and a Democrat, said her administration had recently brokered an agreement with the local utility to power the city with 100 percent renewable energy by 2032.
Whether you agree with the platform or not, this is localized political action and we could use more of it. It’s an example of states and communities playing the role they were supposed to play in this Republic, but rarely do in our misguided era of federal government authority worship. It doesn’t matter what you think on the climate issue, those pushing for renewables in a more grassroots manner are doing it in a localized and empowering way.
Voluntary action is far more healthy and sustainable than bureaucratic mandate or coercion. These are the right tactics to use for change. More decentralization and experimentation is needed at the local level across the U.S. in red states and blue states. The key thing is we need to urgently move away from the centralized one-size fits all approach of hopelessly corrupt and entirely disconnected Washington D.C. Such experimentation will lead to spectacular failures but also and incredible achievements. This is, after all, how human beings evolve and learn.Which brings me to what may end up being the most unexpected consequence of a Trump Presidency (assuming no major terrorist attack).
The upside case to Trump’s election was always that previously clueless citizens could no longer ignore the facts and pretend that everything’s fine. Everything’s not fine and it hasn’t been fine for a very long time. The mask is finally off and reality must be faced by scores of people previously living in denial. While incredibly ironic, it may end up that Donald Trump’s Presidency inadvertently results in an unintentional explosion in decentralized political movements which effectively erode centralized power in D.C. and move it closer to the people where it belongs.
Now wouldn’t that be something.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger


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