Democracy and Water in a New Presidential Era
This year’s Presidential election results were unexpected and outrageous in so many ways. The election disclosed how truly divided our country is – by age, gender, education, income, and race – and how isolated we have become from one another. We experienced a surprising abundance of hate speech, a tolerance for bad behavior, and a deep distrust of political insiders.
What worries me most is how this election will leave many feeling despondent about their opportunities, fearful about the future, and worried about their health and safety.
Given this shifting context, the work that we do for our nation’s waters couldn’t be more important. Protecting and restoring our rivers and guaranteeing everyone a right to clean and affordable water is essential to our future, regardless of your political stripes. Beginning now, we must do more to look out for each other and pursue solutions that unite rather than divide. We must stand up for what is right while also taking the long view necessary to sustain functional freshwater ecosystems.
Our work at River Network has always been about empowering people with the tools and solutions, and the confidence, they need to succeed. Given this election, we will need to invest in new engagement tactics that explore the linkages between conservation and democracy at the local level, and provide access to the tools of civic engagement for water accessible to all. By defining community values for water first, we can begin to build a future of hope, where our rivers still run, our communities are more resilient to climate change, and our water is safe for everyone.
The philanthropic and national conservation community has an incredible opportunity, perhaps an obligation, to provide guidance to the new administration and ultimately accountability regarding the environment, and in particular water. We can demonstrate what is possible. A joint action plan could help us become a powerful force for good.