Out here in California --- for those of us now living directly "on the front edge of a climate crisis", as MSNBC's Chris Hayes describes it in the interview below --- it's both extraordinarily unusual and incredibly welcome to hear a politician with ambitions for higher office speak as frankly as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) does here.
But with temps in the high 90s over the past week here in Southern California (in March!) and new data from NASA finding the state may well run out of surface water completely in just a year's time, it's very good to see someone with the courage to say what needs to be said.
Newsom describes the state's voluntarily water conservation measures to date, in the face of our record-shattering drought, as "small ball".
"I think we're going to have to move to mandatory rationing," he notes bluntly. Hayes appears surprised in response, noting that calls for mandatory rationing are "essentially anathema in American political vocabulary."
"This is serious," Newsom responds in turn, detailing the crisis the state is now facing. "This is Code Red".
"We can call for voluntary rationing because that polls better, or we can lead. And I guess at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves 'Are we just stewards? Or are we gonna step up and step in and actually share our private thoughts --- trust me, private thoughts are ample around some requirements for mandatory reductions --- or we can continue to play the finger in the wind politics that, frankly, has put us in this crisis in the first place."
It should be noted, of course, that Newsom has a record for leading where others have waited to follow more favorable political winds. You'll recall that it was Newsom who, as Mayor of San Francisco back in 2004, first ordered his City-County Clerk to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, based on his belief that restricting marriage equality was in violation of the U.S. Constitution. In the 10 years and countless court rulings since, that legal position has proven to be both the Constitutionally correct and moral one, even as it was anything but popular --- either nationwide or even within his own political party --- at the time he stepped up courageously in 2004 to do the right thing.
[Big thanks to Peter Sinclair of the indispensable "Climate Denial Crock of the Week" website for getting the video posted after MSNBC, for reasons they failed to explain to me, did not post this individual segment on their website following its airing on Hayes' All In on Wednesday night.]