Last weekend in San Francisco, the Democratic National Committee voted again to prevent presidential candidates from engaging in a debate solely on the issue of climate change. There simply isn’t time left for this dismissive behavior from the major political party that even recognizes climate change is a threat — the Democrats need to walk the walk, and primary pro-extinction Democrats.
As Grit Post reported last week, the Democrats initially shot down the idea of debating climate change while two important things happened — first, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign lobbied against a climate debate, and the fires in the Amazon rainforest garnered worldwide media attention.
The Amazon fires aren’t caused by climate change, but by deliberate burning to clear land for cattle — they are, however, threatening to speed the timetable of climate disaster. With current estimates saying there are roughly 11 years left to radically change human behavior or risk the end of life as we know it, this action isn’t one of so-called “climate moderates.” There are no “middle ground” solutions to save our species.
It goes without saying that no Republicans support taking any action to combat global warming, leaving it up to Democrats to do the heavy lifting. Blame for a lack of any climate-centered Democratic presidential debate lies squarely at the feet of pro-extinction Democrats.
“Extinction” is the correct word to use, given that the Center for Biological Diversity has been sounding the alarm bells since 2010, saying that Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction event with dozens of species going extinct every day. The Center warns that at the current rate of extinction, 30% to 50% of Earth’s species will be extinct by the middle of the 21st century.
Who Are the Democrats in the Pro-Extinction Caucus?
If the pro-extinction Democrats are to be fought, it helps to know who they are. Based on a list of Congressional supporters of the Green New Deal, and then subsequently searching for any climate policies put forth by members of Congress who are not on that list, it’s possible to get the names of people who are standing in the way of meaningful reform. Grit Post also reviewed environmental scorecards from the League of Conservation Voters. Rather than simply looking at LCV’s aggregate score, we also looked at Democrats’ votes on specific issues.
It is no longer enough to simply speak about the need to address climate change. Unless a Democrat takes serious action or proposes serious legislation, they ultimately support the pro-extinction policies of the party at large.
Of course, that caucus is chaired by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who has been massively dismissive of climate action like the Green New Deal, which she once characterized as “the green dream or whatever.” However, nearly all members of House Democratic leadership — with the exception of Assistant House Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) — are also opposed to the Green New Deal and have no specific climate plans of their own. This includes House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York).
Here’s who else makes up the grim reaper’s rank-and-file in the Democratic Party, given their lack of support for the Green New Deal, and lack of any meaningful policies to fight global warming. We’ve categorized the pro-extinction caucus alphabetically by state. Is your representative on this list?
1. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Alabama)
2. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona)
3. Rep.Jim Costa (D-California)
4. Rep. Julia Brownley* (D-California)
5. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California)
6. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-California)
7. Rep. Pete Aguilar* (D-California)
8. Rep. Lou Correa* (D-California)
9. Rep. Diana DeGette* (D-California)
10. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado)
11. Rep. Jim Himes* (D-Connecticut)
12. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester* (D-Delaware)
13. Rep. Val Demings* (D-Florida)
14. Rep. Lois Frankel* (D-Florida)
15. Rep. Theodore E. Deutch* (D-Florida)
16. Rep. Alfred Lawson (D-Florida)
17. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida)
18. Rep. David Scott (D-Georgia)
19. Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-Georgia)
20. Rep. Ed Case* (D-Hawaii)
21. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois)
22. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois)
23. Rep. Robin Kelly* (D-Illinois)
24. Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Indiana)
25. Rep. André Carson* (D-Indiana)
26. Rep. Dave Loebsack* (D-Iowa)
27. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana)
28. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland)
29. Rep. Debbie Dingell* (D-Michigan)
30. Rep. Brenda Lawrence* (D-Michigan)
31. Rep. Dan Kildee* (D-Michigan)
32. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan)
33. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota)
34. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi)
35. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri)
36. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nevada)
37. Rep. Donald Norcross* (D-New Jersey)
38. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-New Jersey)
39. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey)
40. Rep. Frank Pallone* (D-New Jersey)
41. Rep. Albio Sires* (D-New Jersey)
42. Rep. Kathleen Rice* (D-New York)
43. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries* (D-New York)
44. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina)
45. Rep. Joyce Beatty* (D-Ohio)
46. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio)
47. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon)
48. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pennsylvania)
49. Rep. Matt Cartwright* (D-Pennsylvania)
50. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina)
51.Rep. Vicente González (D-Texas)
52. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)
53. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)
54. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas)
55. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas)
56. Rep. Al Green* (D-Texas)
57. Rep. Aston Donald McEachin (D-Virginia)
58. Rep. Don Beyer* (D-Virginia)
59. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Washington)
60. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin)
61. Rep. Gwen Moore* (D-Wisconsin)
*While this person was very highly rated by LCV, they are included on this list either due to particular votes cast or lacking an aggressive plan on climate change.
Grit Post is not yet including the following 17 Democrats among the above members of the pro-extinction caucus, as there is not yet enough data available to come to a definitive conclusion about their climate policies.
1. Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Arizona)
2. Rep. TJ Cox (D-California)
3. Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-California)
4. Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Georgia)
5. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Illinois)
6. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa)
7. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas)
8. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine)
9. Rep. David Trone (D-Maryland)
10. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Michigan)
11. Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minnesota)
12.Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nevada)
13. Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma)
14. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pennsylvania)
15. Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas)
16. Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah)
17. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia)
We invite any of these Democrats listed to contact us with their specific and aggressive plan on climate issues.
What Should Be Done
Some Democrats have been calling on the DNC to hold the climate debate to no avail like Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio). Others have put forth powerful climate plans like Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont). However, this is not an issue one presidential debate will meaningfully solve.
Given the absolute lack of action on the Republican side of the aisle, there is hardly a meaningful difference between pro-extinction and Republican. So what progressives must do to change the debate isn’t to beg the existing Democratic party for air time, but to totally upend the norms of the Democratic Party.
Unless the members of congress above listed start making much more dramatic moves on climate change — rather than just issuing toothless statements — progressives should issue primary challenges to every single member of the pro-extinction caucus.
While it is true almost every Democrat in Congress had a B- or better grade from the LCV and, to put it charitably, the same cannot be said for Republicans, a simple truth remains: Friendly inaction will leave us every bit as extinct as overt hostility. Like Dr. Martin Luther King said, in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Global warming is the challenge of our century. It may be the biggest threat humanity as a whole has ever faced. Even the Pentagon has referred to it as a significant national security threat. We cannot simply treat the end of human history as another partisan battle waged for decades with no meaningful change as we have with gun reform and mass shootings. We must act now, in a dramatic fashion.
We have to fight against the end of the world. And if Democrats are content to literally sweat it out, we must fight the Democratic establishment as well.
The only other option is extinction.
(Featured image: U.S. House of Representatives/Wikimedia Commons)
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.