With each generation, the center of an elec- tion’s agenda surrounds something pressing to that era. For the 1930s, it was what to do about the Great Depression and the impending World War. In the 1970s it was the Middle East, drugs and the fallout of the Civil Rights Movement. For the elections of the 2000s, there have been ongoing discussions of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, healthcare and taxes, but the one concept that is often avoided or only slightly addressed is the environment. There has been a heavy misconception over the past few decades that the planet and its worrisome condition is an issue that only Democrats focus on, and even when they do, their plans are not as concrete as the nation and the world needs. In reality, this is not only a leftist problem, but a national concern that should be included in the narratives of both Republicans and Democrats, rather than a yell for help from the Green Party that is muffled and muted by talking points around war and tax cuts in the current “us versus them” climate.
The environmental policy in place for Pres- ident Donald Trump’s administration is not exactly a progressive structure, but a regressive one. His “America First Energy Plan” that pushes the United States to continue to use fossil fuels as an exclusive energy source could reverse the steps forward the nation has made toward a permanent switch to renewable energy. Trump claimed on Aug. 13 that one day the “wind will go off,” but as long as the sun still shines, both solar and wind power can remain a useful energy source. Once solar, wind, geothermal and other methods of capturing energy are invested in, their supply is not a further concern.
As of 2019, the United States spends $649 billion dollars annually in fossil fuel subsidies, according to Forbes. Although the Trump administration sees vitality in cutting various programs and decreasing funding to try to reduce the national debt, it finds no problem with being the second biggest subsidizer of fossil fuels globally, behind only China. Beyond the stress on the environment thanks to the contribution of fossil fuels, there has been no national push to reduce waste, especially in regard to plastic. The ban of single-use plastics is up to individual state legislatures, and as of now, only eight states have official plastic bans. It is clear that this should be a federal issue if there is to be a stronger push toward a solution.
To make matters worse, the United States exited the Paris Agreement, a crucial idea by the United Nations to combat climate change from greenhouse gas emissions. Without this, there is no greater organization to hold the United States accountable for its damaging decisions and habits. This authority needs to come from within from a better presidential administration in 2020.
Unfortunately, business and profit are what is holding politicians back from retracting our harmful environmental impact. This can only be feasible in the future for a limited time, as the Earth is already experiencing a crisis. The number of years we have left is debated by scientists, but regardless, current events should be a wake-up call to all. With the burning in the Amazon rainforest the past three weeks, appeal to corporations and excessive investments in outdated sources need to be put to the side. Markets and economies shift over the centuries, and the United States cannot halt its environmental efforts because jobs and where we’ve traditionally concentrated our finances will need to adjust. President Trump is attempting to assure those employed by the companies behind planet-destroying products when he should be encouraging innovation in more eco-friendly endeavors. The candidates for this election need to state the positives of acting toward a cleaner planet and how this will directly affect everyone, regardless of party affiliation or status. Presidents in the past have been successful in promoting environmental awareness, like Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and others, with membership of differering parties, too. It would not be too late for this round of candidates to reverse a cycle that is killing us and certainly not “Making America Great Again.”