At the end of my campaign for U.S. Senate a couple weeks ago, I took some heat. When I decided to endorse Andrew Romanoff, the great majority of people who contacted me supported my decision, but some were offended by my choice. And they let me know it.
Throughout my campaign, I received criticism from supporters of Mr. Romanoff, and from supporters of candidates of color. Both sides asked, even demanded, that I drop out and support their candidate. Just a couple weeks ago, while I was still fighting like heck to be on the ballot, one candidate asked me to withdraw my petitions so that she could benefit from possible duplicate signatures.
I have been reflecting on the results of Ralph Nader and Jill Stein’s candidacies in 2000 and 2016, and have long told myself and close associates that I would never act as a spoiler. I knew I was a long shot, but had a multitude of reasons for running.
I have always been clear about what my role is, and part of my intention was and remains focused on how we begin to establish defenses for problems that don’t yet exist. The COVID emergency demonstrates just how unprepared we are for small and big crises related to the climate crisis.
Representatives of the Sunrise Movement recently asked me to speak about comparisons between climate justice organizing in this time of COVID crisis, and the approaches taken in the past. Honestly, there has never been anything like this. For one, justice organizing, by definition, requires community, yet fighting this virus requires isolating oneself from others. It’s hard to lead or participate in a movement while sitting in front of a screen.
At one of the first U.S. Senate Forums in Boulder in the spring of 2019, when traditional campaigning was still under way, I remember being the only candidate who advocated for Medicare for All with the insurance companies out of the picture, and being the only speaker whose first priority was the climate emergency.
When asked who we would each like to most have dinner with, I answered “Greta Thunberg,” to the mostly blank stares of people present. At that time, very few people knew who Greta was.
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Throughout the campaign, I strove to pull my fellow Democratic candidates to the left. Of the many candidates who entered and exited the race, only two endorsed another candidate as they backed out the door. Both white men endorsed John Hickenlooper when they left the race. I decided that if I did not make the ballot, I would endorse the person most prepared to protect our climate and defeat Hickenlooper, and then Gardner.
One reason that it is imperative that Andrew Romanoff must win against John Hickenlooper is because the former governor has already done serious damage to our state and our climate.
Politicians like him, who take money from the oil and gas industry are complicit in the collapsing world we now find ourselves in. We must reverse course now, and if we don’t, this pandemic will be our new reality. Indefinitely.
Climate catastrophe will reveal itself in increasingly difficult and complex ways and intelligent, deliberative preparation will be what is required to save lives. We need creative solutions to confront the greatest challenges of our time, not a reliance on ideas that may have made sense in a different era.
Colorado needs Andrew Romanoff to win, because there are reasons to suspect Hickenlooper might not beat Cory Gardner. It’s time for Democrats to stop protecting candidates who cater to corporate interests.
Regardless of what the polls say, it is possible that Gardner might beat Hickenlooper because Hickenlooper himself said he was “not cut out to be a senator.” Have you been watching Gardner recently? The Senate just passed Gardner’s bi-partisan suicide and mental health crisis hotline bill. It’s really important not to underestimate Republican strategists.
Many months ago, I had an idea to try to bring systemic change to the electoral process. My idea was to form a progressive women’s alliance. I proposed that the three progressive women align together early in the U.S. Senate race in order to gain national attention, so that if one or more of us got through to the ballot, we would be in a position of power.
Only one of us, with the best polling, would continue on, so as not to split the vote. Two would have to drop out to get one through. However, the other two women rejected the alliance, feeling like the idea was not in their best interest, and that was their absolute prerogative.
Is Andrew Romanoff perfect? No. None of us are. He has made some grave mistakes for which he now apologizes. He joined Hickenlooper in opposing an environmental bill of rights and setbacks to prevent residential drilling in 2014. Anti-immigrant legislation he enacted in 2006 destroyed families, including a family very dear to ours, to whom we offered food and sanctuary to when the father was picked up and incarcerated by ICE several years ago.
As the earth gets hotter, organisms will adapt to survive, and many will not survive novel pathogens and other calamities that are coming. The most vulnerable amongst us will be most severely impacted. And as other crises continue, we will need to support a Green New Deal, radically shift how we operate, and support new leadership for our country. Small alterations in our behavior will not be enough to survive what is coming.
Now, I am focused on making masks, being with family, gardening, staying connected with friends, pressuring would-be politicians to focus on the climate emergency and Medicare for All and pushing for Ranked Choice Voting and Online Signature Gathering.
We must each make personal choices about who to support, and I believe that if elected, John Hickenlooper will continue the status quo, which likely will be a downward trajectory toward societal, species and planetary collapse. Hickenlooper makes no apology for what he has done in the past, and I am not convinced that he has the vision or the support to flip the Senate.
We do have a secret weapon however, and it isn’t really that secret.
As we face this novel challenge, we must attempt to leave our differences aside to protect what we have, because greater losses are coming, and none of us will be immune. This time we are emerging from, this era of overconsumption, will be a thing of the past. The option to return back to “normal” has largely disappeared. Let’s use our secret weapon. Vote.
Diana Bray is a psychologist, mother of four, beekeeper, former candidate for U.S. Senate and mask-maker.
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