Director’s Note on the Election
Congratulations to all! Election season was intense with many members of our network working to ensure that voters’ choices of leaders would reflect concern about climate and health. There will be a transition of leadership in a couple of months. Meanwhile, everyone should be aware that across the country, individuals viewed the brief physician videos 116,000 times on social media. The Dozen Questions Candidates Must Answer and the Open Letter to Candidates from the Consortium team were used by Consortium state affiliates and other state groups in our ad hoc coalition. The Dear Patient Letter initiated by Climate Health Now was signed by nearly 5,000 current/future doctors and nurses and received nationwide news coverage accompanied by many LTE’s (see Advocate Voices in our Nov 2020 newsletter). The result is that the country elected a president who is making climate change a leading issue for the next four years. This is a huge opportunity!
Where do we begin? For starters, we reach out to the new Administration with an open letter to Ron Klain, President Biden’s new Chief of Staff. We look forward to being in touch with him. We offer thanks to all of you who worked on the Health Voices for Climate Action campaign, and give a shout out to Rob Gould, Bev Harp, Linda Rudolph, Wendy Cook on the Consortium team as well as others representing our allied groups, and Amanda Millstein, Ashley McClure, and Cynthia Mahoney of California Health Now.
Divided government is our current challenge. Working with this will require our best strategy and targeted efforts to influence policymakers. Some disruptive voices will continue to push the polarization to maintain political advantage. How can we circumvent that? The polarization is based on false representation of public opinion. Yale Climate Opinion Maps 2020 show clearly that there is strong support for climate policies in many states that are thought to be disinterested in climate solutions. Based on this reality, moving legislators may be possible. We need to walk across the aisle and build personal relationships with legislators, share our memorable stories, and work around and through obstacles with strategy. We need to dial down widespread anxiety by speaking about the benefits and advantages of addressing climate change to bring better health and more economic opportunity to constituents. Everyone should be aware that, counter to what some might expect, there are Republicans on the Senate Bipartisan Climate Caucus, and in the House Problem Solver Caucus. Our doctors are in each of their states. It will be one of our goals to help our members connect with their legislators. There will be talking points and issue briefs to help you. You will hear more about this. Right now, we are about to have an opportunity to take a breath. So, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!