By Norman Solomon
Spiking temperatures, melting glaciers, rising seas, catastrophic hurricanes and unprecedented wildfires are clear signs of a climate emergency caused by humans. Denying the awful reality makes the situation worse. The same can be said of denial about the current momentum toward fascism under Donald Trump.
Trump’s right-wing base and leading Republicans are in lockstep with both types of denial. They embrace the most absurd claims about climate, such as Trump’s recent comment during a visit to fire-ravaged California that “I don’t think science knows, actually.” And they refuse to recognize or deplore his autocratic moves.
On the left, hardly anyone doubts the climate crisis. And there’s widespread recognition that Trump’s presidency is a full-blown emergency. But — with justified enmity toward the neoliberal corporatism and militarism of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party — some question or pooh-pooh the importance of ousting Trump with Biden.
Yet no one can credibly dispute, for instance, that Trump is increasingly aligned with white supremacy. Or that Trump is enabling more repressive actions by “law enforcement” and the courts. Any ambivalence about defeating Trump goes against the left’s historic responsibility to fight tooth and nail against the extreme right.
Winning that fight is a victory for humanity as a whole. It also allows space for the left to function instead of being crushed.
But — after nearly four years of the Trump presidency — a normalization process has made denial a real hazard.
The book How Fascism Works, by Yale professor Jason Stanley, describes the dynamic this way: “Normalization of fascist ideology, by definition, would make charges of ‘fascism’ seem like an overreaction, even in societies whose norms are transforming along these worrisome lines. Normalization means precisely that encroaching ideologically extreme conditions are not recognized as such because they have come to seem normal. The charge of fascism will always seem extreme; normalization means that the goalposts for the legitimate use of ‘extreme’ terminology continually move.”
Even now, despite all that Trump has done and is threatening to do, some progressives still have trouble wrapping their minds around the reality of the neo-fascist threat right in front of us in real time. The current “encroaching ideologically extreme conditions are not recognized as such because they have come to seem normal.”
One of the clearest voices about the intertwined perils of the climate emergency and the Trump regime is longtime Green Party activist Ted Glick, who has devoted decades of his life to organizing against climate disaster and a political system with corporate power dominating both major parties.
Nearly 20 years ago, Glick was the Green Party nominee for U.S. senator in New Jersey. In 2007 he went on a “climate emergency fast” (water-only for 25 days) to protest the federal government’s failure to take action on global warming. In 2010, he hung banners inside a Senate office building that said “Green Jobs Now” and “Get to Work,” risking up to three years in prison.
“There are an awful lot of reasons why it is so important for Trump to be defeated and removed from the White House, but I continue to believe that the most important one is the climate crisis,” Glick wrote last week.
“There is no question but that the climate issue is very much connected to many other issues, among them the issues of jobs, poverty, immigration, health care, racism, and war and peace,” he pointed out. “That is why the concept of and the organizing for a Green New Deal must be central not just to the climate movement but to the movement of movements which, alone, can make it happen once Trump is out of the White House.”
And Trump will only be out of the White House four months from now if Biden receives enough votes in swing states this fall.
Glick’s conclusion rings true: “Removing Trump is the prerequisite for everything else. Those who don’t get that on the left should really ponder what will happen to the world’s disrupted ecosystems and the billions of people reliant on those ecosystems under a second Trump administration and beyond. We must do all we can in the next two months to literally save the world.”
Climate change is an emergency. And so is Trumpism. Flames are approaching what’s left of democratic structures in the United States.
Stopping the advent of fascism doesn’t offer any assurance of being able to create the kind of society and world that we want. But failing to stop the advent of fascism would assure that we won’t.