On several occasions throughout your long primary campaign against Bernie Sanders, you told me, a member of the American people, that you were a progressive who likes to get things done. Today, I’m calling on your to exercise those bonafides to help me, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the indigenous tribes standing in solidarity, the country and the world, by condemning the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
At a town hall in New Hampshire in late September of last year, after months of claiming you’d reveal your position after you were elected, you told a young woman that you reject the Keystone XL pipeline on the basis that you “don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.”
Perhaps it was the mounting pressure to take a position on the matter, perhaps it was the fact that the question came from a young person who will suffer the consequences of climate change more than those in your own generation. Whatever the case, your reasoning was not based on complex geopolitics you used to argue in favor of it in 2010, it was simple: the pipeline was not in the best interest in our need to combat climate change.
Today, the Dakota Access Pipeline stands as a regressive blight against the climate movement, a carbon copy of the Keystone XL. The dirty oil from Canada (your words) is among the most noxious fossil fuels on the planet. Beyond its carbon output, the DAPL is a matter of human rights, community sovereignty, water and land use rights, racial justice, freedom of the press, police reform and the legitimacy of treaties under the Department of the Interior.
Your website lists many of these matters at the top of your Issues page. Your campaign speeches speak of these matters in abstract platitudes. Your resume boasts a life of helping women and children. In two weeks you will likely be exalted to the highest leadership position in the world. As a leader, as a progressive, you must speak.
If you are for the pipeline, explain yourself. Explain your concerns about foreign dependency, argue in favor of corporate and financial interest, argue in favor of jailing journalists and the legal authority of eminent domain over centuries old treaties and argue why this should be a model for the world to follow. Explain to the American people, who will look to you for guidance, how our trade agreements have left us vulnerable to foreign lawsuits to protect the profits of concentrated power, power that has grown stronger than our democracy. If you think informing the public of the pipeline and the resistance to it is dangerous for the public and anyone exposing this information should face prison, endorse it. If you think bold action on climate change is not a pragmatic form of governance, show why. If you now think differently, a year and a month after saying plainly that Keystone XL was not in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change, tell us. If you view the Paris Agreement symbolically, say so. If you think the climate movement and the Native American people are wrong, prove it. If you believe the Dakota Access Pipeline is just and good and something you encourage us as a nation to support, the future president of the United States should say so.
Madame Secretary, it is no secret you have changed positions over time. Whether it is simply an evolution as a result of new knowledge and new perspective as you say or not, it’s been prevalent throughout your career. In two weeks, the American public will have the opportunity to wipe the slate clean, to judge you on your efforts, convictions and results. You have the opportunity to prove to the American people that you are in fact a progressive and one who wishes to champion progressive policies. You can prove your voters and endorsers right, that you are the most qualified person to tackle the toughest challenges we face as a country and a world. In my view, the Dakota Access Pipeline is an amalgamation of both of those ambitions. Politically, no matter which position on the pipeline you choose to take, there are consequences, but as a leader, you must take one. As a progressive, a capable champion of human rights, you must condemn it. Silence on the steps of the White House is not an option.