Sierra Club Home Page   Environmental Update  
chapter button
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Click here to visit the Member Center.         
Search
Take Action
Get Outdoors
Join or Give
Inside Sierra Club
Press Room
Politics & Issues
Sierra Magazine
Sierra Club Books
Apparel and Other Merchandise
Contact Us

Join the Sierra ClubWhy become a member?
Backtrack
Sierra Main
In This Section
  September/October 2000 Features:
Why Vote?
Five ordinary people who depend on your vote
Who Owns Your Congressperson?
Love of High Places
Man of Two Minds
Big Timber's Big Lies!
 
  Departments:
Letters
Inside Sierra
Ways & Means
Lay of the Land
Good Going
Fod for Thought
Sierra Club Bulletin
Web Extra
Mixed Media
Updates: Only on the web!
Last Words
 

Sierra Magazine
Inside Sierra: Why Politics?

By Editor-in-Chief Joan Hamilton

The Sierra Club may be best known for protecting wildlands and fighting pollution, but getting the right people elected to public office is also a vital part of our job. When we published our first congressional voting charts 20 years ago, some people advised, "Stay out of politics. It's dirty." We replied that we were already in politics, because we care about public policy. And good policy requires good politicians.

In the congressional campaigns of 1996 and 1998, our support helped remove two dozen anti-environmental candidates from office and elect two dozen environmental champions. The newcomers have already made a measurable difference. In 1998, for instance, when we tried to increase the size of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we lost in the House by ten votes. When the issue came up again in 1999, we won by ten votes.

The 2000 election offers even more dramatic opportunities, according to Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope and Sierra senior editor Paul Rauber. In their article "Why Vote?", Pope and Rauber explain that the anti-environmental leadership of Congress does not have a firm hold on the future-the balance could easily tip in our favor. We could also elect an environmentalist president to work with that greener Congress and name up to four new justices to the Supreme Court. Dramatic change wouldn't happen all at once, the authors say, "but at least we could finally see what progress looked like."

Some good environmentalists may be planning to sit out this election, discouraged by reports of imperfect candidates and corrosive campaign contributions. But that would be a shame. Environmentalists in other parts of the world, including Russia's Aleksandr Nikitin, Mexico's Rodolfo Montiel, and Nigeria's Ken Saro-Wiwa, have suffered imprisonment and worse for voicing their environmental convictions. "We may think that our political situation is frustrating and impossible," Pope says. "But Ken Saro-Wiwa died fighting for the kinds of opportunities we take for granted."


Up to Top


HOME | Email Signup | About Us | Contact Us | Terms of Use | © 2008 Sierra Club