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Letter to the Editor by Sneed Collard

No party differences: don’t believe it.

Recently, I asked my 19-year-old son if his friends planned to vote in the upcoming election. Some were, he told me, but others dismissed the notion with the argument that both major political parties are basically the same. That’s no big shocker. I, too, felt fed up with both parties as a young person, and the politics of Republicans and Democrats today definitely share some commonalities. Yet even a cursory glance at where Republicans and Democrats focus their most vigorous efforts reveals a dramatic divide between the two — differences that may well determine whether we survive as a species, not to mention a free nation.

I often write about climate change because, with the possible exception of nuclear war, it is hands-down the number one problem humanity faces. The scientific evidence for climate change is overwhelming, but at this stage you don’t need scientific evidence. All you have to do is notice the unprecedented heat, drought, tornadoes, crop losses, wildlife losses and other dramatic signs that surround us. So how are the two parties handling this issue that threatens to wipe (or more accurately roast) our species from the planet? Republican leadership has adopted a four-pronged approach:

  1. Deny the problem exists — or promote the absurd notion that humans are in no way to blame.
  2. Attack expert scientists who study the issue and actually know what they are talking about.
  3. Blame and villify liberals who are somehow against the poor humanitarian oil companies. 
  4. Propose solutions that allow fossil fuel industries to continue to make obscene profits while doing almost nothing to address the problem.

Democrats have a far different strategy — one showcased by the recent major legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Biden. This legislation contains multiple, flexible solutions that will dramatically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide the United States releases into Earth’s atmosphere. These solutions range from making it easier for average people to buy electric cars and rooftop solar panels to offering long-term incentives to agriculture and other major industries to reduce their production of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and increase carbon storage. In other words, Democrats are actually doing something about a real issue instead of playing a catastrophic game of smoke and mirrors.

The divide between Republican and Democratic leadership plays itself out on many other major issues as well. While Republican politicians just talk about freedom, they pursue policies that seek to rob us of voting rights, erode economic equality and impose greater government, corporate and religious control on our lives. Democrats, on the other hand, are actually passing legislation to ensure our rights to vote, level the economic playing field for middle and lower class families (including college students) and protect our freedom of privacy and beliefs.

Democrats’ path forward is at times bungling and messy, but they are working for all of us, not just wealthy contributors with an insatiable need for more money and power. This November, we are blessed with an outstanding selection of Democratic candidates who care deeply about all Americans, and have the knowledge, skills and intelligence to work on our behalf. They stand ready to replace Republican intransigence with actual solutions. Find out who they are. Most importantly, get registered to vote and cast your ballots to ensure we have a future to look forward to. No difference between parties? Don’t believe it. 

(Sneed Collard is the author of more than 90 books for children and adults, and is a regular contributor to outdoors and lifestyle magazines. He is the father of a University of Maine student and makes his home in Missoula, Montana.)

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