And so I find myself politicking. Which is not where I want to be; like many climate activists I’m reluctant to mix it up in elections, because we’ve been disappointed so many times. I’m not the starry-eyed kid licking envelopes for Paul Tsongas any more.  Like too many Americans I’ve been turned off by the silly posturing of too many of our politicians. But Keystone is not a silly issue; it either gets built or it doesn’t.

If it does get built, it will pour carbon into the atmosphere till at least 2053—a million barrels a day of the dirtiest oil on earth. If it doesn’t, then it will mark the first time, the very first time, that a superpower has decided to forego a major project because of the damage it will do to the climate. That’s exactly the kind of leadership we need in order to start unclogging the international stalemate on global warming. It could be a turning point, a serious breakthrough. As Time said, “Keystone isn’t a perfect battlefield, but neither was Selma or Stonewall. In a war, you don’t always get to choose where to fight. You still have to show you’re willing to fight.”

I don’t plan to spend my life fighting election battles, and neither do most of my colleagues—we know that for movements, political campaigns are only a small part of the work, which is mostly about changing hearts and minds. But until the last vote is cast on April 30, the Massachusetts Democratic primary is, unexpectedly, one of the hottest fronts in the planet’s biggest battle. We won’t duck the fight; we have to make the case. And so we will.

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