Shared from the 2/1/2017 Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Edition eEdition

GOP leaders needed for climate-change cause

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Demonstrators protest the legislative agenda of congressional Republicans and President Trump at City Hall. Those who want change will need to get along with the GOP. BRYAN ANSELM / For the Washington Post

The Trump administration is not even two weeks old, and there is plenty of cause for concern. The list is growing and includes climate-change references excised from the White House web site, escalating tension with the news media, the announcement that the president will not release his tax returns ever, his order to begin construction of a border wall with Mexico, the travel ban affecting certain Muslim countries, and, probably by the time this goes to press, a conservative Supreme Court nominee.

The historic women’s marches in Washington and cities around the country were designed to keep the pressure on President Trump, and that seems to have worked, so far. Whatever else, this sure is going to be interesting to watch.

As we watch, we have to think about how to respond. Many are pledging continued defiance, lawsuits, and ongoing commentary on social media. That’s all perfectly appropriate. Trump must answer to the people, not just his supporters, and he must obey the law. If he doesn’t, he can expect a backlash. This might even include impeachment at some point if he falls out of favor with enough Republican voters to convince the leaders in Congress that they must act for the good of the country.

Meanwhile, those of us who didn’t support Trump must reckon with the reality that, at the end of the day, we are going to need the support of alot of those Republicans if we ever want real change on the issues most important to us.

At the top of that list is action on climate change, which President Barack Obama made a priority in his second term. But even he was unable to get any real momentum going on it. He relied on administrative action and executive orders, because Congress would not go along.

It’s safe to say that Hillary Clinton, if she had been elected, would have fared no better, because there will be no serious effort to substantially reduce and soon eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels unless a substantial number of Republican voters embrace the concept. They should, not just because of the grave danger of continued global warming, but also because of the opportunity to transform our economy by leading the world in clean-energy technology. The economic possibilities are staggering.

Still, we have a long way to go to sell this to the American people and to Congress, and that starts with Republican support. We already have 10 courageous Republicans in the House who have joined the Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, including three from Pennsylvania (Reps. Pat Meehan, Ryan Costello, and Brian Fitzpatrick). But we are going to need a lot more GOP leaders on climate change, and soon, because we don’t have time to wait until Democrats control Congress again. This is critical to the future for our children and grandchildren.

So as we respond to the Trump administration, let’s not forget that we have a real need to make nice, not with the president, but with many of his supporters as well as conservatives and moderates who did not support him. We cannot afford to view politics as blood sport, as we fantasize about getting even with those we have come to hate because they chose Trump over Clinton. That’s a luxury we cannot afford.

Let’s instead take our cue from two of our greatest presidents. Abraham Lincoln said that “if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.” No one today lives that better than Obama, who repeatedly turns his cheek and inspires us with the love of country he shows by keeping his tone polite. It’s hard to do, but we have no choice if we want to preserve the future. It just might help with other important issues too.

What do we have to lose? Oh yeah, everything.

Steve Harvey is a lawyer in

Philadelphia and the president of A Call to the Bar: Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change

(www.calltothebar.org). steve@steveharveylaw.com

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