VGN Voices: Democrats fail to step up in CNN Climate Town Hall

I've been in a dark mood since watching the CNN Climate Town Hall. I'm not commenting on specific candidates.

There were distinct moments, but seven hours of Q&A has mushed in my brain, and I'd rather offer my overall impressions.

There were some worthwhile ideas, but, my main take-away is that none of the candidates truly grasp the threat.

People who understand what is happening, how much worse it's going to get, and how fast it's going to happen, don't joke about eating cheeseburgers, let alone promote and make light of such destructive behavior while seeking a leadership position.

People who understand the urgency don't pretend that fishing and ranching can continue in some "sustainable" way that isn't physically possible, and don't lie to everyone that people in the US can basically continue to live as we have into perpetuity without consequence.

I liked that they were largely emphatic about ending fossil fuel extraction, and had progressive ideas about supporting workers in those industries to transition out, like guaranteed income and job retraining.

It's a bold, but necessary strategy, but we'll have to secure a more progressive legislature to see any of that happen. Sadly, no one offered a similar support plan to end animal agriculture, such as capital investment to do something like transition to plant crops where possible, despite multiple mentions of the UN recommendations that people transition to a plant-based diet.

When the UN recommendations were referenced, the response was "Merrica," "beef," "ranchers," and "tradition," doubling down on protecting animal agriculture, despite that it's a primary contributor to pollution and the climate crisis.

photo: CNN

The explicit message was that they wanted to preserve "freedom" and "choice," with zero regard for the freedom and choice that is already being denied victims of the climate crisis. I'm guessing all the people who died in the Bahamas would have chosen to live, and I find it selfish and despicable that people who could go vegan continue to eat animals knowing their choices exacerbate these deadly storms.

That's how science works, so go argue with scientists if you don't like this reality. The moderators were egregiously committed to denigrating plant-based diets. I was astounded when the female moderator bashed Beyond Meat and Impossible burgers with her wink and giggle routine. Why have moderators who clearly don't understand the problem, except to protect CNN advertisers? Even the supposed climate change expert commentator wasn't willing to responsibly address the plant-based diet imperative.

I'm better qualified for that position than he is, if he's not openly promoting going vegan. Each candidate was asked about their immediate request for people to address the climate crisis now, and not one of them suggested people eat more plants, not go vegan, not plant-based before 6:00, not even a paltry meatless Monday. Nothing. This one thing all of us do everyday, eat, was never mentioned as a solid, meaningful, accessible-to-most change.

My read is that none of them are willing to do what's necessary to make this ongoing and worsening catastrophe a little less messy. It was, at best, unconscionable, and in reality, it will ultimately contribute to escalating misery and death. I don't need to hear about how they're politicians, or Democrats are useless, or whatever.

The point of the event was to elevate the conversation about the climate crisis because life on Earth is at stake. This is it, folks. The window is closing, and this was their opportunity to step up. And they didn't.”

This editorial was written be Lee Ann Thill.

Lee Ann has been providing art psychotherapy to people for more than 15 years. She is a leader in art-based social media initiatives and art therapy services for people with diabetes, and has facilitated workshops for organizations serving people with diabetes, cancer, fibromyalgia, and Turner Syndrome.

Much of her career has been dedicated to working with youth and young adults, addressing depression, eating disorders, LGBTQ issues, and life transitions. I am committed to making creative expression accessible and fulfilling to everyone.

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