When I began my water-only Fast to Defeat Trump on October 3, I had some idea about how I was going to feel as it progressed. I have done long water-only fasts before, though the last time, on the issue of the climate crisis, was 13 years ago when I was 58 years old. On this one I’m 71. And though I’m a regular long-distance bicyclist and exercise guy, that’s getting up there in years, I know.
This one has been harder than the one in 2007. I remember during that one being pretty active as late as the 22nd or 23rd days. Not this time. I have been weak since day two, the primary symptom I’ve had all throughout. This morning I woke up after a good night’s sleep and found it difficult to get going, with the most weakness since I stopped eating.
But the most important thing about my hunger strike is not how I’m feeling but whether or not there is evidence that it is having its desired result. What is that? It’s the motivation of other people who might not otherwise to vote for the removal of Trump by voting for Biden, and to get involved in the organized efforts by a number of groups to turn out the majority of the American population that opposes Trump.
I have anecdotal evidence that some individuals are voting or doing phone calling or other voter turnout work that they might not be otherwise. But a better metric is the extent of media coverage, and I feel good on that front. I can count about a dozen progressive media sources that have run stories about or interviewed me.
A main angle of a number of those stories is the fact that in 2002 I was a Green Party candidate for the US Senate and that I was a local leader in northern NJ of a Green Party group from 2000 to 2018. Now I’m urging people to vote for Biden, after having been a Bernie Sanders supporter prior to Biden’s primary victory.
Why am I not just voting for Biden and urging others to do the same but fasting for a planned 32 days to underline why people should do so?
Like many other commentators, I consider this election to be one of it not the most consequential elections in decades. There’s the issue of democracy and if we’ll still have it if Trump is elected. There’s the issue of Trump’s open egging on and support of violent, white supremacist groups. There’s his total walking away from giving leadership in the fight against COVID-19. There’s his misogyny and ant-lgbt history. There’s his explicit policies of shoveling even more money and power to his fellow oligarchs and the rich. But the ultimate most important one for me is his overt denial of the climate emergency we are in and his repeated moves to prop up a faltering fossil fuel industry.
For 17 years the climate issue has been the main issue for me. My last paying job for 10 years before retiring in 2015 was as the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. I’ve continued to work close to full-time on this issue since retirement as an unpaid volunteer. I’ve been arrested about 10 times over that 17 year period for action of nonviolent civil disobedience on the climate issue.
Unlike every other issue, there is a definite time urgency to this one. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a consortium of thousands of scientists, said in a report two years ago that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” will take place if the world does not reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030. We are completely and totally behind the 8-ball on this one.
The way I see it, when the future of life on earth is very literally at stake with this election, it’s more than appropriate for actions that may seem extreme if those actions can have an impact. With every fiber of my being, I pray, and believe, that this action is doing that.