Thursday, June 1, 2017

A World in Disbelief as Trump Pulls US Out of Paris Accord

"A year and a half ago, the world came together in Paris around the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children.
It was steady, principled American leadership on the world stage that made that achievement possible.  It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well... 
Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future.  And for the nations that committed themselves to that future, the Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale.
The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got." Fmr President Barack Obama
On Thursday, after a week of indecision and keeping the world in suspense, and acting against the advice of 22 senators, Rex Tillerson, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Donald Trump breezed onto the lawn at the Rose Garden and announced that the US would pull out of the Paris Accord. Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Scott Pruit had won the day. 

The world is used to hearing America described as the most sophisticated democracy in the world, the assumption being that true democracy is the best system for progress in society on every front. Barack Obama's election in 2008 seemed proof of it; it was miraculous that an African American could win the hearts of the majority of voters, in a country long characterized by racism and wealth of opportunity for one race group at the cost of all the others, but African Americans in particular.

That Obama pulled the US back from the brink and went on to achieve what he did for America and the world, despite rank opposition from Republicans, reinforced the idea that this democracy deserved the position of world leader.

There wasn't any doubt in the minds of the majority of people paying attention that President Obama deserved the role and did it proud. Under his Administration the focus of global affairs turned from the bully power of war to the transformative power of diplomacy. No doubt either that First Lady Michelle Obama transformed her role and became a world leader in her own right, championing education, health and children's rights within America and internationally.

This remarkable couple, whose lives and work were driven by a desire to see social equality in every realm, exemplified dignity. The White House was a transformed place. American democracy was safe in their hands. And it was something the world could and did respect.

But now, that same democracy has produced a president who is no better than a corrupted, severely intellectually challenged, if not mentally deranged, banana republic dictator.

Supported by infighting, back-stabbing liars, racists and bigots, (some of whom have zero qualifications for their positions of immense authority), who have no problem sacrificing the health of more than 20 million people, or pushing the world to the brink of potential nuclear confrontation with North Korea. They promote social inequality, bigotry and racism, and are very busy creating a culture of disinformation second only to Vladimir Putin's.

They supported a candidate who ran on exploiting fear, rage, white supremacy hatred and sheer ignorance. A man who had no qualifications to be anything, let alone a president, and who garnered votes by promising to roll back every progressive policy instituted by the Obama Administration. America may be the most sophisticated democratic system on the planet, but perhaps our idea of what that produces needs adjusting if elections can be swayed by foreign powers, if districts can be so gerrymandered that one party can't win, if information that voters rely on to make their decisions is in fact disinformation. 

Democracy is an imperfect system; it's better than pure socialism, but it's a work in progress. As the world gets more and more interconnected, the effects of national elections and the actions of political parties and leaders are felt by citizens of other countries. They can't vote, but they can act. They're mostly democratic countries.

The solution may not lie in democracy. International disbelief at the stupidity of America pulling out of the Paris Accord is matched by resolve to protect our planet at all costs. So China is stepping up, France and Germany are forging a stronger partnership, Europe is girding its loins, and within America, states, cities, counties, and corporations are forging ahead, investing in renewables and in globalization. Stronger together.

Those who are afraid, and who want to go back to a world where fossil fuels can be exploited and the consequences ignored, flex their bully muscles and exert control. But it's a death rattle, and in fact their ship has already sailed. The world is never going back to isolationism, or to using fossil fuels with reckless abandon.

And in reality, it will take years for the US pullout to be effected. In that time, Donald Trump will be gone, and Republicans will be out of power. Damage done will be undone. One step back, two steps forward.

The most sophisticated democracy in the world will have averted its own catastrophic disaster. Whether it will still be world leader is questionable.

If America recedes from the world stage for a while because of the stupidity of a president the majority didn't vote for and are now struggling to get rid of, perhaps it will be a good thing. It will give the country time to get its own house in order. Barack Obama is just getting into his stride, free now from the shackles of the presidency. Hillary Clinton has also come out of the woods. Rep. Adam Schiff is doing a sterling job on the Russia investigation. And the Democratic Party has never been so unified and so focused.

This is not the end of the world.