The Mojave National Preserve turned 20 this year, and was created as part of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act.

Giving Thanks in a Difficult Season

It’s been a difficult week for Americans as we again come to terms with the realities of race in our nation, and as Scott Martelle wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “a society that seems to be eternally out of balance” for too many of the nation’s citizens, with often deadly results.

For Democrats it’s been a difficult season nationally, and while our party’s political fortunes are less important by light years compared to the severities of Ferguson, if there is ever an opportunity to advance dialogue into practical, genuinely fair policy, it must come from Democrats. Whether restoring the 1965 Voting Rights Act to its full language and intent or crafting new legislation, we must always be the party that leads on matters of civil and human rights.

While we have at least two difficult years ahead of us as far as the environment goes, it can sometimes be difficult to pause and take stock of our lives and give thanks for what we have. I wanted to share with you some of what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving, even on the eve of the GOP’s takeover of Congress.

  • I’m thankful that, despite our party’s difficult season nationally, here in San Diego our city council has approved the Pure Water plan, and we have the opportunity to pass the city’s proposed Climate Action Plan as well.
  • I’m thankful President Obama has used his power under the Antiquities Act to protect a number of public land sites around the country as National Monuments, including the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles. Let’s thank our president for protecting the San Gabriel Mountains after a lengthy campaign to do so, and encourage him to continue protecting worthy locales and wilderness bills stalled by Republican intransigence in Congress by using his extraordinary presidential powers in his final two years in office.
  • I’m thankful for the 20th anniversary of the California Desert Protection Act, which not only elevated Joshua Tree and Death Valley to National Park status, but created the Mojave National Preserve as well. The current California Desert Protection Act proposal, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would create additional wilderness areas and designate new Wild and Scenic Rivers, along with new state wilderness areas in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This is a worthy bill, with two new National Monuments also part of the proposal.
  • I’m thankful California passed a ban on single-use plastic grocery story bags this year. As a coastal state, we have a unique obligation to our environment and our fellow citizens to set an example in our relationship to water and plastic, even as we also serve as the “last line of defense” before plastic waste escapes into the sea.I’I’m thankful for the bounty of preservation available to us every day at California State Parks, beaches, and historic sites.
  • I’m thankful for the bounty of preservation available to us every day at California State Parks, beaches, and historic sites.

It is a critical time, and the only long-term solution is to elect more good faith Democrats to federal, state and local offices in 2016 to pass the laws we need, and enhance laws already on the books. While we have dozens of dilemmas in front of us, for the sake of our environment Democrats must take back the majority in the House and Senate, and retain control of the White House in 2016.

Here in California we must retain our statewide majority, and expand our reach locally. Those are our marching orders for 2016. Remember, come January the only thing between us and the abyss will be President Obama. And he is now an official lame duck, lucky as we are to have him for the next two years. Let’s make the most of it.

At San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, we’re looking forward to a robust, busy 2015 setting the stage for victory and success in 2016. As we consolidate our presence and work as a club, we will be calling upon our members to help us with new committees coming together in the New Year, including policy and endorsement committees, and we look forward to rolling out an engaging schedule of meetings and events, and compelling speakers and topics.

Mojave National Preserve photo © 2008 Tommy Hough, all rights reserved.