The DNC Needs a Climate-Centered Debate.

The greatest crisis facing the nation deserves its own platform.

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Photo via Josh Barwick on Unsplash

In the history of mankind, it’s fair to say that we have faced no greater threat as a species than the threat of the looming climate crisis. Decades of inaction on a global scale has led to an unprecedented urgency to address the catastrophe that only grows stronger with time and in the United States, Democrats and left leaning voters are beginning to demand it.

According to CNN polling cited by The Hill:

“82 percent of registered voters who identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents listed climate change as a “very important” top priority they’d like to see get the focus of a presidential candidate.”

So given the severity of what’s at stake when it comes to our climate, combined with the overwhelming number of left-leaning voters who see it as a critical issue, would it be unreasonable to ask for a democratic debate focused on the topic?

Apparently, the Democratic National Committee thinks so.

Interestingly enough, it isn’t the democratic base that began the demand for such a debate either. Washington State Governor and democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee has centered his entire campaign about the issue of climate change, and started a petition calling on the DNC to make the topic the center of one of the debates. In response, chairman of the DNC Tom Perez made it perfectly clear that this would not happen. Perez took to Medium to explain, and wrote that:

“If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign’s signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we’ve had?”

While the point that Mr. Perez makes is a rational one, I’d say Mr. Inslee’s argument is far more substantial.

The justification for doing a climate-centered debate as opposed to other topics is almost unquestionable when considering the significance of what’s currently happening. To put it in the simplest of terms, climate change is not like other issues. Climate change has the potential to lead humanity and millions of other species down the path of extinction. The time has long since passed where we can treat it like just another political issue. We are talking not just about the future of the United States, or even the future of civilization. We are talking about the future of humanity and the planet as we know it. The very least that the Democratic National Committee could do is give climate change a two hour debate, so that the electorate is given a clear view on where the candidates stand on the issue, and how they plan to address it.

Of course, there wouldn’t be such an urgent need for this debate if climate change was given significant coverage in past debates. Instead, it has received no more than a few minutes. But what are the underlying motives for preventing a massive conversation on the subject?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that in the year 2018 alone, Opensecrets reports that the oil and gas industry has given 162 house democrats an average contribution of $15,093 for a grand total of $2,445,193. In the senate, 47 democrats took an average of $29,364 for a total of $1,380,108.

We wouldn’t be looking at this debate denial honestly if we didn’t acknowledge the crony capitalism and legalized bribery that is likely playing a critical role in this decision. If anything needs to be front and center on a debate stage, it is climate change. For far too long humans have been running from the problem we have created and contributed to, and the future of our planet is now at stake. We have the ability and the obligation to demand better from those who have the power to make these kinds of decisions. A climate change debate would be just the first but critical step in moving the conversation in the right direction.

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