The paradox of deep change
Those in the Green Party who urged their members to vote No to the programme for government looked at the limitations of this deal. They know it’s not enough, they see what it ignores and omits. And they’re right. Those who argued for a Yes vote looked at the gains, the importance of being at the table, pressing home the message every day, with every decision, small and large. And they’re right too.
Evolution is a process. Each step makes the next step possible. Next time a programme for government is negotiated we’ll be in a different place perhaps capable of deeper change. We’ll also be just five years shy of the deadline to meet the 1.5 degrees threshold. No one sitting at the cabinet table could possibly argue that Our Shared Future is remotely enough. We must find a way to be honest about that.
Looking at the gap between the necessary level of change and the negotiated programme for government, the Green Party’s high profile candidate Saoirse McHugh recently quit the party in protest, saying: “I don’t believe that our pathway to a just and free society lies in electoral politics.”
The evidence suggests she’s right.
To characterise those who voted to enter into government as the political grown-ups and those who urged a ‘No’ vote as idealists or the hippy extreme is to miss the point entirely. This wasn’t and isn’t about them. It’s about us. The political system is playing out much deeper dynamics. Those at the political table represent the limits of what people like you and me are prepared to hear. And political journalists who insist on framing this as a battle between moderates and radicals are part of the same subtle denial. This is a fight between political pragmatism and basic physics. When man-made cities meet melting permafrost there’s only one winner. Care to place your bets?
What are we to do when our political system is unable to speak the truth or act fast enough to bring about urgent change?
This is not a curmudgeonly question but an attempt at clear-headedness in the face of the facts.