Resist, Recruit, Train And Sustain

11/18/2016 10:00 pm ET Updated Nov 21, 2016

Over the past 10 days, we’ve had to accept a tough reality. But although it’s definitely going to happen, a Trump administration will never seem normal, nor should it. We already know that the corrupt, cynical, and racist values that he and his inner circle bring to the White House will challenge everything we stand for.

As we move forward with a new Congress and this new administration, here are some early thoughts on how the Sierra Club will confront the reality of President-elect Trump.

First, though, let’s acknowledge that although a lot of progress was made under President Obama on many of the issues that we care about, our nation’s challenges run much deeper than any one president. By itself, kicking Trump out of office won’t solve the racism, misogyny, and xenophobia that existed before his rise. It won’t eliminate the hatred in our public discourse and in our communities. It won’t magically create a 100 percent clean energy economy, nor will it alleviate the economic pressures that millions of families face in their daily lives. I’m proud of how the Sierra Club has begun to address the intersection of climate with inequality, race, class and gender, and I guarantee that we’ll go even deeper.

Second, in the remaining weeks of the Obama administration, we’ll pursue every opportunity to secure as much as we can and prepare for the fights ahead. Our legal program is hatching plans to shine a light on corruption and prevent sweetheart deals between the next administration and big polluters. And our lands team will continue to keep one eye on securing permanent protections and the other on what it will take to defend those wins. Those are just a couple of examples of what’s already underway.

As for 2017 and beyond, our priorities, challenges, and opportunities fall into four areas:

  1. Resist – We will draw on the talents and experience of our staff and volunteers to fight Trump, Congress, and the growing number of anti-environmental governors, every step of the way. This defensive work will play out in the courts, in Congress, in statehouses, in the marketplace, and in the streets ― and it will involve nearly every part of the Sierra Club. Part of this resistance will include standing strongly with our allies, particularly communities of color, and continuing to speak out against racism, xenophobia, sexism, bigotry, and hate.
  2. Recruit – In the past ten days, we have seen an outpouring of support from the public in the form of donations, memberships, volunteer recruitment, and social media posts. We will continue to aggressively recruit new activists, new volunteers, and new donors. Our grassroots are the foundation of our strength, and we will work to engage and activate a new generation of Sierra Club leaders.
  3. Train – Having a larger membership and a deeper pool of activists will help, but how we develop those resources is just as important. In 2017, we will invest more deeply in staff and volunteer training than we have ever done before. For example, every staff member and the lead volunteers from every chapter will get training on equity and inclusion as we accelerate our anti-racism work.  
  4. Sustain – We have tough fights ahead, but we refuse to be in a defensive crouch for years to come. We will continue to make clean-energy progress in cities, in the private sector, with public utility commissions, and internationally, and we will increase our investments in those areas where we can stay on the offensive. We must be relentless in our fight against fossil fuels and for clean energy and smart transportation policies at the city and state levels.

Over the past week, I’ve been in touch with the leaders of many of our progressive allies. In addition to what I’ve outlined above, the Sierra Club will be looking for opportunities to join forces with other organizations on specific fights where we can unite disparate parts of our movement, learn from one another, and put up some early wins. 

One last thing: Donald Trump may be president for the next several years, but the Sierra Club has been doing this work for nearly 125 years. We’ll still be here when he is gone, and our movement will be bigger, stronger, and more innovative than ever for having opposed him. For many of us, these will be the biggest environmental fights of our lives, but they’ll also be the most meaningful. We’re ready to give it everything we’ve got.

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