I’m very pleased with recent political news I’ve been hearing from the USA (that’s not a sentence I get to write every day!). There have been two major stories which have left a positive impact:
- President Obama reveals plan for action on climate change.
As anyone following American politics will know, the importance of this announcement cannot be understated. Climate change is an incredibly contentious issue in the USA, with something like a third or more of Americans denying it is an issue or sometimes that it’s even occurring. The issue was scarcely mentioned during the 2012 presidential election. Even if you do deny the human influence upon the climate, it just makes sense to gear an economy in preparation for the point of ‘peak fossil fuels’, where the amount of oil, coal and gas extracted will no longer be enough to meet demand. That the world one day needs to develop a post-carbon economy is undeniable; the earlier we plan this, the better.
Obama’s plans are admittedly basic, pledging to cut emissions by only 4% of what they they were in 1990 – five times less than the EU is planning – but the fact this process has begun at all is incredible. Apparently this reduction would be relative to 33% of the UK’s emissions. It’s a start. I just hope the Republican-dominated Congress won’t give him too much grief over it. Despite his dubious record on many issues from drones to state surveillance, Obama is proving himself to be a progressive in many ways – being the first sitting President to endorse the right to same-sex marriage, for instance. Which brings me to…
- Supreme Court Gives Positive Ruling for Same-Sex Marriage
The Supreme Court has ruled that gay couples should receive the same legal rights as any other married couple. This has invalidated a section of the ridiculous ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ which denied gay married couples the same benefits to tax, healthcare and retirement, among others. The Supreme Court also ruled that the decision to remove a ban on gay marriage in California cannot be challenged. This is positive news not only for gay couples but for the nation as a whole. I’d like to think the country is that bit more tolerant now.
Two bits of great news. Please don’t let it stop here! Next I would like to see the nationwide abolition of the death penalty (though it’s gradually creeping in state by state anyway), the closure of Quantanamo Bay and a complete reform of the political system to make it more representative and less of a corporatocracy. Well… I can dream, can’t I? An end to slavery would have seemed ridiculous 200 years ago, civil rights laughable 100 years ago and same-sex marriage a joke just 20 years ago. Anything is possible.