Rainmaker, a little faith for hire
Rainmaker, the house is on fire
Rainmaker, take everything you have
Sometimes folks need to believe in something so bad, so bad, so bad
They’ll hire a rainmaker

Springsteen, 2020

So here we are again, in transition, ever hopeful for better times and a return to normalcy. That said, we are a deeply troubled and divided nation, split in almost equal halves and taking turns feeling real despair about our direction. While I see it and it is a feeling so real you can almost touch it, I do not really understand it and suspect I never will.

While excited by the prospect of an administration that will reengage on critical matters such as climate change and real efforts to protect and preserve water and air quality, I am mindful that a lot of hard work remains for things to meaningfully get, and stay, better. This work falls to us, all of us. If there is one lesson to the last four years it should be this: our institutions are fragile, way more than any of us imagined and the fabric of social norms that binds society together is even more fragile than our institutions. The norms and balances we assumed would act as limitations on demagoguery and acceptable social interactions were mirages. We cannot assume that the election brought them back. To the extent they existed at all, foundational norms must be rebuilt from the rubble and tended to and cared for each and every day. If just papered over and ignored, these schisms that turned us on one another will re-emerge along with our self-destructive nightmare.

I don’t have the answer on how to accomplish this reboot of civil society, but I am pretty sure that is beyond the capability of a president, no matter how decent, to bear that burden without help. It is always easier to destroy than to build, so it was in fact possible for one malignant president to quickly tear down a lot that took a long time to build. No one can fix what needs repair all alone. If you want to perpetuate our downward trending seismic swings from one extreme to the other, then go ahead and believe that a President Biden will fix it all by replacing the leadership of EPA and rejoining the Paris Accord. If that’s enough for you, then President Biden will be just another rainmaker for hire.

If you want more, demand more. And work for it. The other side, the anti-environmental self-interests, will keep working; they always do, and they already stand ready to exploit their next opportunity. For them, this wasn’t a defeat, it was just a setback. Sure, this last election was exhausting and a lot of you worked hard to make the environment a priority again. If your efforts stop with the election, those efforts will have been wasted. Stay informed, stay vigilant, stay vocal and stay involved.