IT’S ONLY FEBRUARY, AND YOU ARE very likely already tired of the 2016 Presidential Election. But amid all of the terrible stories about racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny, it’s worthwhile to take a moment and recognize something good that’s happening: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are trying to out-green each other.

Case in point: Hillary Clinton just came out against drilling for oil in the Atlantic and the arctic. This is a relatively new position for Clinton, and it puts her in opposition to President Obama, who has been moving to open up the Arctic (in spite of the giant, BP oil spill catastrophe that marred Obama’s first months in office). This is just the latest in a series of changes over environmental concerns for Clinton, who also recently came out against the Keystone XL pipeline, and also said she would ban the extraction of fossil fuels from public land.

So why is that good news and not just an example of cynicism on the part of Clinton? Well, in the past, the environment has frequently been put into competition with jobs and the economy in Presidential elections. It’s been a much trickier issue, and it has not been an issue that most voters have considered a dealbreaker. But as Hillary Clinton is trying to get more supporters from the left-wing of the Democratic Party, she’s clearly seeing that one very good way to do that is to appeal to the environmentalists.

This means that environmentalism is no longer a small voter bloc. It is now an essential voter bloc, and one that can keep candidates out of office. It means that the environmentalist cause has gotten much bigger in just the last four years alone, and that it no longer makes political sense for Democratic candidates to even consider pandering to the people still questioning whether climate change is real on the far right.

Regardless of what you think Clinton’s motives are, her and Bernie competing against each other for which of them is the “most green” candidate can only mean good things for the environmental movement. Environmentalists like to use the saying, “When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.” And this is undoubtedly true. But when donkeys fight… well, that’s a different story.

h/t: Grist

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