My Willmeng dilemma

Courtesy Cliff Willmeng

It’s more a situation than a dilemma really. When it comes to Cliff Willmeng’s candidacy for Boulder County Commissioner as the Green Party candidate, I felt the need to recuse myself from Boulder Weekly’s endorsement process.

Over the last few years, I have spent a good amount of time with Willmeng. We’ve discussed oil and gas/fracking, labor issues, issues confronting the Latino community and the billionaire funding problems with the establishment Dems and the Big Greens. We’ve hoisted a good number of beers over that time, and despite the fact we don’t always agree on everything, I consider him a friend and felt our relationship was too close to allow me to vote on his endorsement.

But I also feel the need to explain why I plan to vote for him despite what a pain in the butt he can be to those he sees as too willing to compromise on the most important issues of our time. I find Willmeng idealistic and with little patience for those who talk a good game yet aren’t willing to pursue real policies that reflect their stated beliefs. I know from our conversations he finds excuses like “it would cost too much” or “the courts have already ruled on that” or “we just have to get the best deal we can in the real world” to be maddening and disingenuous.

And I agree with him on that. I just happen to be less abrasive about it most, but not all, of the time. And that is the knock on Cliff; that he doesn’t always play well with others. But I think it’s a complaint that’s outlived its usefulness.

Let me toss out a critical piece of information that just came down from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the world’s scientific authority on global warming. According to IPCC’s report that was just released Oct. 1, at the end of its 48th session in Incheon, South Korea, we only have approximately 11 years to stop global warming at our current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane, before it’s too late to halt the process. You read that right, 11 short years.

The report went on to say that unless the world fully commits to “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” right now, the planet is game over.

Now consider this. The establishment Democratic Party does not endorse Proposition 112, which would establish a 2,500-foot setback between oil and gas operations and occupied buildings and water supplies. The industry claims 112 would prevent 85 percent of all future oil and gas production in our state. That, of course, is just another oil industry lie because they can now drill horizontally up to 3.5 miles, meaning it would cost them more to develop some minerals but they’d still be producible, just at lower margins.

But forget the lie, I wish it were true. That would make 112 a “far-reaching and unprecedented” societal change, just the kind of thing we have to have right now to save our children’s future.

So why does so much of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party *(Major donors, foundations, big green environmental groups, unions, the party apparatus) and so many of its candidates, refuse to offer a full-throated endorsement of Proposition 112? Simple answer: money and power with a healthy dose of fear tossed in. **The Colorado Democratic Party and a number of county chapters of the party are endorsing Proposition 112.

So long as the party’s major, billionaire donors from Michael Bloomberg to George Soros and a barrel full of family foundations are invested in natural gas production and infrastructure, most establishment Dems will be as well. And don’t forget the Big Greens who are funded by these same donors. Sure, the local Colorado Chapter of Sierra Club endorsed 112 (and I admire and appreciate that), but when it came to putting money where their mouth is, Sierra Club National gave Jared Polis, who opposes 112, $600,000 and gave the pro-112 effort nothing last I checked (payback for 2014?). Could it be because Sierra Club can’t afford to piss off Bloomberg, who has given them $80 million so far, not to mention the other millions they’ve gotten from oil and gas companies and other supporters of the industry? I think you can answer that one.

This is exactly the kind of two-faced crap that makes Willmeng, and me, crazy. Even Boulder County Democratic candidates, who have endorsed Proposition 112 — polls show that position is politically expedient in this county — used their name recognition and influence in the primary  to help elect other Dems who oppose it… even while pro 112 Dems were available on the ballot. Such endorsers could have at least called out their chosen candidates on the issue.   

That’s like claiming to oppose a war and then telling everyone to vote for pro-war candidates. I see it as just another form of climate change denial that puts political party ahead of the planet’s future.

I understand endorsing an anti-112 Dem when its a choice between them and a Trump Republican, just not when there is a better alternative to combating global warming.

Folks, if we’re lucky, we have 11 years to take radical action to slow global warming. If that doesn’t make global warming a litmus test for the Democratic Party and its candidates then what does? The science says natural gas is killing us, the Democratic Party and its billionaire donors say it’s good for us. Which of these two are you going to bet the lives of your children on? The option of not betting doesn’t exist, so you better get it right because we’re out of time. No more kicking the global warming can down the road.

We have to be smart enough to see through political jargon like “sustainable,” and “clean energy,”  words used to appear sympathetic to the 112 cause while the candidates dance around their refusal to endorse it.  Politicians who would steal our children’s future just to make sure they don’t alienate their big donors aren’t worth the price of the paper that my ballot is printed on.

I’m not crazy, but Donald Trump is, and I fully understand that at this point in history we need a blue wave to save our democracy. I’m not going to vote against Polis and help Trump Mini-Me Walker Stapleton get elected just because I believe Polis has made our environmental future subordinate to his own political ambitions… at least not this year. And I’m not suggesting you do that either. I am suggesting that you vote for the person who will do the most to fight global warming in every race.

Which brings me back to Willmeng. This Commissioner’s race is one of the only races where I don’t feel like I have to compromise my principles because of the Trump factor. I have the choice between a Dem and a pretty radical progressive in Willmeng. And frankly, at this point in Boulder County’s history, with oil rigs poised on the horizon waiting to invade and destroy our health, quality of life and property values, I’m voting for radical.

With only 11 years left to win the war against oil and natural gas or lose the planet — not to mention losing our county in the next year or two — we don’t have time to support good-intentioned folks who are willing to endorse members of their party who still support natural gas. I want the Commissioner who we are most likely to find on the front lines trying to stop our county’s destruction, not the guy shaking his head and talking about how he wished there was something more he could have done to stop it.

Eleven years, folks, 11 short years. We all better get a lot more radical and start voting for people outside the mainstream when the opportunity presents itself, because once it’s gone it’s gone, and Bloomberg and Soros and Sierra Club and establishment Dems won’t be able to put the Earth back together again. Please remember, this is my opinion, not Boulder Weekly’s. At the time of this writing, I don’t know who this paper will endorse in this Commissioner’s race.

* stars represent clarifications added after original publication.