Climate activist Bill McKibben: The stakes are too high to vote for a third party vote

“We may lose the climate anyway… I’d just as soon not do it living in a semi-fascist America to boot.”

Climate activist Bill McKibben addresses the Vermont legislature in 2013. CREDIT: AP/Toby Talbot.
Climate activist Bill McKibben addresses the Vermont legislature in 2013. CREDIT: AP/Toby Talbot.

Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, is not going to say anything positive about Hillary Clinton, at least on climate change. But in an exclusive interview with Climate Progress, he made clear that voting for a third party is still an unwise option for those who care about the climate.

That’s because America’s most well-known climate activist really, really worries about the possibility of electing Donald Trump, whom he calls “the worst choice that we’ve ever had” in an election. “It’s quite possible to me that we may lose the climate fight anyway,” McKibben said. “If we’re going to, I’d just as soon not do it living in a semi-fascist state to boot.”

Of course, McKibben, who teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont, was and is a big supporter of his “neighbor” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who was Hillary’s main primary challenger.

In fact, Sanders put McKibben on the Democrats’ 15-person Platform Drafting Committee, which in turn ended up very green.

McKibben spelled out some of his views on the election last month in a Nation article, “The Climate Movement Has to Elect Hillary Clinton — and Then Give Her Hell.” The key point is whatever you think about Clinton, “she can be pressured,” whereas Trump is “an ecological and moral disaster.”

I particularly wanted to know what McKibben would say to any of his millennial (and other) supporters seriously considering voting for a Third Party. “I completely understand the impulse,” he told me. “I get it.”

But McKibben agrees with Sanders’ judgment that the stakes in this election are simply too high:

“Bernie said very wisely that the most vulnerable people in the country have the most at stake here. I think one could add to that the most vulnerable people in the world — who are never going to get to vote in this thing, but many of whom are going to get die in a Donald Trump world from drought, flood, war, pestilence and the seven or eight Horsemen of the Trump Apocalypse.”

Fresh from a trip to support Native Americans and others protesting the Dakota Access pipeline, McKibben wanted to make clear that “I don’t think that electoral politics are the most important politics.” The founder of the country’s largest grassroots climate movement added, “what we do on November 9th and 10th and beyond are even more important.”