Action 132. Hope and Acceptance: getting to the 7th stage of grief following mid-term elections.

I’m trying to move swiftly through the 7 stages of grief following these midterm elections, so I can get out of paralysis and into something that looks more like action and positivity. But indulge me, if you will, in a few moments of unabashed wallowing in grief over what are some truly grave midterm election results, as exemplified by many of the recent headlines rolling into my inbox…

GOP Election Rout Delivers Blow to U.S. Leadership Role on Climate Change

Climate action got left as collateral damage on the electoral battlefield last week, as voters delivered a drubbing to Democrats in the midterm elections.

With a major boost from oil and gas money, politicians who will make it their mission to stall progress on global warming will control both houses of Congress.

I pretty much wanted to hibernate for the rest of winter after watching the midterm election results (Stage 1: Shock and Denial), lamenting the rollback of what has to date already been lackluster and uneven progress towards climate change action in this country, now descending into what could more fairly be characterized as nonexistent leadership for action on this issue.

If you thought the pressure was on to pass Keystone, well, one day after the mid-term elections, we got newly appointed lead turtle– I mean Senate Majority leader- Mitch McConnell grandstanding about how he now has enough votes in the Senate to approve the pipeline and will make it a top priority. Meanwhile, Senator James Climate-Change-Is-A-Hoax Inhofe is expected to become chairman of- what else?- the Environment and Public Works committee. With a turtle for majority leader, and electing Senators with a penchant for pig squeals into the halls of congress, this is all starting to feel a bit too Orwellian for comfort (in case you haven’t noticed, I have moved swiftly through 2. Pain and Guilt, into 3. Anger).

So, on to 4. Depression, reflection and loneliness. This is not a helpful place to be, but I do think its fair and right to be a little depressed, but more importantly to reflect on what the bejeezus happened here. We do know that midterm elections do have a history of bringing out older, whiter, more conservative voters. So, that makes a lot of sense given where these elections took us, particularly on energy and climate issues. But still. What are we doing? Where are we missing the mark with connecting with voters over the importance of taking our own energy decisions into our hands??? Why are we constantly electing folks that legislate directly against public interest, and make no attempt at hiding their warm friendships with the Koch brothers, the fossil fuel industry, the dinosaurs of energy that stand in the way of energy independence and hasten us towards climate changed which, as a UN report released just 2 days before the election articulated, “if left unchecked… will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems” ????? I wish I had an answer that moved us past the deep pockets and corrupting influence of money that drives most of our political landscape. I wish I knew.

But. While its appropriate to reflect, and continue to ask ourselves hard questions about how we ended up here, there is SO much to actually do. It’s time to move into 5. The Upward Turn and 6. Reconstruction, whereby I have to remember the strength and caring that so many people are giving towards this fight. NextGen, 350.org, Climate SolutionsSierra Club, CarbonWARainforest Action Network, EcoAdapt, Rising Tide, Clean Tech AllianceHold the Wall – these organizations and many, many more are thousands of people working on hundreds of issues around the world on climate change- stopping oil trains, supporting clean technology development, protecting rain forests, researching ocean acidification, developing equitable carbon pricing policies, the list goes on and on. And where there is intelligence, and passion, and action, there is most definitely hope.

So yes. This week, I am grieving, because climate definitely took a smack down in our country’s midterm election. But I am also moving towards the final stage of 7. Hoping and hopeful, that I can move into a place of looking at this setback with sadness, but while putting much more effort into finding a way forward- which is what this blog is about.

Plus I’m going to be watching a lot of McConnelling videos over the next couple years. Everybody needs a coping mechanism.

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