by David Yarnold, President and CEO, National Audubon Society
Bald Eagle. Photo: Graham McGeorge/Audubon Photography Awards
If you want a country where birds and people thrive, support candidates who will deliver on their promises for a better future—for everyone.
It’s mid-June, and I’m writing this column for the third time in as many weeks. My first draft covered the surge of interest in birds and nature in the early months of COVID-19. My second draft addressed a racist incident in Central Park in which a white woman called the police on Christian Cooper, a Black man and New York City Audubon board member, who was simply out birding during spring migration.
No sooner had I finished that draft when the country erupted in agony and righteous fury over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers—and the murder of many others at the hands of law enforcement across the country. And so now here we are, two weeks into collective action to demand justice for Floyd and for all Black people.
By the time this column appears in print, the world will be changed yet again.
What won’t change is that on November 3, 2020, Americans will vote for legislators who represent their values. If you receive Audubonmagazine, it’s pretty likely that we share some core values: a commitment to protect birds and the places they, and we, need; to nature; and to justice and respect.
We are proud of our politically diverse membership (53 percent progressive, 47 percent moderate and conservative), and it’s not our place to pick your candidates. Together we’ve proven we can find common ground, starting with ensuring every American can easily register to vote. Birds need all the support we can muster.
If you value birds, vote for candidates who will uphold laws that protect them like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. If you value clean water and clean air, vote for candidates who will uphold and strengthen the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. If you care about climate change, vote for candidates who will hold polluters accountable and who support clean-energy development and access. If you value the places that birds need, vote for candidates who will invest in public natural spaces, from planting native plants in city parks to protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
And after you vote, hold those elected officials accountable for their actions. If they promised to protect birds, protect clean air, protect the climate—hold them to those promises.
We can give you the training to talk with your elected officials. We’ve created a series of webinars and a campaign manual that teach you how to be an advocate, how to write to legislators, and how to meet with them. Start with Advocacy 101and go from there.
We’re living through historic times, and it’s been tough. But there’s an inescapable date on the calendar, and it is just a few short months away. Audubon’s chapter network started with political action—stopping the killing of birds for their feathers. It’s time to vote Audubon’s values again. The world will be a better, more just place if you do; a place where birds and people thrive, together.
This opinion piece was underwritten by Audubon Action Fund, a 501(c)4 partner of the National Audubon Society. Learn more about the Audubon Action Fund and sign up here.
This story originally ran in the Summer 2020 issue. To receive our print magazine, become a member by making a donation today.