Let’s head to the coffee shop

Let’s head to the coffee shop

By Don Addu

Last week, the nation went to the polls. 2020 was a grueling election season with record turnout and emotions running high at every turn. Now the results are in, and President-elect Biden is headed to the White House in January. Despite that, millions of Americans voted for his opponent. What do we do with that? 

Well, this election made it clear that Trump and Trumpism are not anomalies. In the 2016 election, candidate Donald Trump was an unknown quantity: a staple in popular culture, certainly, but new to the political sphere. In this election, President Donald Trump’s positions were familiar and he had a political record to run on—and many first time voters showed up to support him and his message. That means he and his supporters are not an anomaly, and neither will simply go away now that this election is done.

At the same time, we desperately need Americans and our leaders to work together on climate legislation, even if they have deep disagreements on other issues. To do that, we’re going to have to meet people where they are. (We always have to meet people where they are, because they are never anywhere else.)

Here’s how I think of it. Let’s say I’m at a bar with my friends, and I know there are also folks at the coffee shop down the street. Now, I don’t drink coffee. I’m allergic to caffeine. I’m really not a fan of the coffee shop—they’re not selling anything I can or want to consume. Well, I can complain all day about those folks who go to the coffee shop instead of the bar, but complaining does nothing to get more people in the door of my preferred establishment. 

So, I have two options. I can complain about the coffee drinkers, or I can go and talk to them. Which is it going to be?

Because here’s the thing: We can’t pass meaningful climate legislation without the folks in the coffee shop.

As an organization, Citizens’ Climate Lobby has always viewed folks as either allies or allies that don’t know it yet. Nothing could be truer right now. From our founding, we have committed to bipartisanship. Everyone deserves respect, and every one, regardless of who they vote for, is impacted by climate. Those beliefs, and the actions we have taken for over a decade based on those beliefs, put us in an incredibly powerful position in our current political landscape.

We will pass a national carbon fee and dividend. The path lies before us. We just have to be willing to walk it.

To all our existing volunteers, thank you for taking this journey. It is your faith in the power of democracy that will bring this world-saving legislation to fruition.

To anyone not yet on board, thank you for considering joining this work. Can I meet you over at the coffee shop?


Don Addu is CCL’s Southeast Regional Director.