Catalyst Fall 2018
First Principles

Time to Reinvigorate Our Democracy

By Ken Kimmell, president of UCS
Photo: jorgeantonia/iStockphoto

Photo: Richard Howard

As Catalyst goes to press, Americans are about to head to the polls for what is surely one of the most important midterm elections in our history. As the leader of a nonprofit organization with tax-exempt status, I can’t tell you to vote for any particular candidate. But I can remind you of what’s at stake for our democracy.

Only by engaging in our political system can we create communities that have clean water, good schools, and protections for public health and the environment. As UCS Kendall Fellow Michael Latner shows, political districts with the most environmental degradation also tend to have restrictive voting laws. Voting is how we start to create a government that works for us, not for corporations or billionaires.

Of course, we need to engage in other ways too. One of the truly inspiring things about serving as president of UCS at such a difficult political moment is that I’ve seen firsthand how UCS members and supporters have risen to the challenge. For example, the UCS Science Network has grown roughly 50 percent in the past two years and has played a critical role in standing up for science and pushing back against governmental abuses and unfit nominees. Our many Science Champions from diverse backgrounds have also dramatically stepped up their engagement.

With your support and that of our many partners, UCS has fought hard in this political climate and won some important victories. Now is the time to cast our ballots. Regardless of the outcome, I can promise you this: UCS will continue to fight for clean energy and a stable climate, an agriculture system that produces healthy food for all, a world safer from nuclear weapons, and a strong role for science in public decisionmaking. By working actively together, we can reinvigorate the founders’ original ideal of a government of, by, and for the people.