Take a deep breath.

It helps to take a deep breath. It’s a great way to relieve stress. When my 8 year old daughter is frustrated or throwing a tantrum, that’s the first thing I always tell her.

Breathing is one of the most basic, simple things we can do. We take it for granted usually. Most of the time, you don’t think about the air around you. Similarly, if we grew up in the United States, for most of our lives we haven’t had to think about whether we’ll continue to live in a democracy. I grew up and lived the first three and a half decades of my life never worrying that democracy would go away, never thinking that one day it would be hard to take a breath of fresh air.

But suddenly breathing is a political act. And so is supporting democracy. And the two seem to go hand-in-hand far more than you might expect. Even before George Floyd begged for the right to take a breath, it was becoming apparent that the people in charge of our country are just as willing to deny breath to their opponents as they are to deny them the basic rights of democracy. Think of the refugees who have been killed in ICE detainment camps. The administration is more than happy to take away their rights. And if they die – if the stop breathing – so be it.

Now think about the pandemic. As you know, COVID is a disease that attacks our respiratory system. For any ordinary political leader – even a bad one – stopping a disease like this would have been a top priority. Any leader with the slightest regard for their country would try to fight back against a plague that was choking their people to death. But not in America. I honestly don’t know if the President is motivated by cruelty or plan stupidity in this case. But just today he told reporters “if you take the blue states out” our Coronavirus numbers are just great. It’s obviously untrue (the top 8 states by infection rate all voted for Trump in 2016), But it’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. If you aren’t one of the groups of people that this Administration approves of, they’re more than happy to take away your rights, and to let you die.

But this week, honestly, I was starting to think that the air would kill us first. Our state is on fire, and it is strangling us. I don’t have to explain to anyone in this meeting how this is the result of Global Warming. And it’s not just Donald Trump’s fault. Nearly every conservative politician and far too many so-called Democrats, has failed to lift a finger to stop this. The air we breathe is a political issue now. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

We are so close to being able to get some help. For the next 49 days we’re going to do our best to elect Joe Biden and toss out every Republican Senator we can. I am under no illusions that they’ll solve all our problems. But let’s think of this as CPR for our democracy. We can stop the worst damage and then turn our attention to healing. Once we elect Biden and some blue Senators, we can spend the next four years breathing down their necks, making sure they do something about the climate, economic inequality, police brutality, clean air, and everything else.

For right now, it’s just really good to see all of you here. I hope this meeting allows us to catch our breath and take heart that we’re all in this together, doing all we can to save democracy in America. And even more, I hope we all get to breathe a sigh of relief in November.

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