It's easy to forget the current political climate when skinning up the side of a mountain or gliding down it in three feet of fresh. There's something real up there, and more and more, nothing at all in seems real down here.
With October's IPCC report predicting global catastrophe in 12 years if we don't significantly curb carbon emissions and, two weeks later, the journal Nature stating in a study that the oceans are warming 60 percent more than outlined in the IPCC, skiers and non-skiers alike don't have time to save the planet if we don't vote.
Our government is broken, plain and simple. An exclusionary primary voting system, run by party bosses, weeds out new blood and radicalizes candidates before mainstream voters ever see them. Billionaire donors and special interest groups on the left and right purchase candidates and legislation to make a buck or further ideological beliefs. The 24/7 circus that we used to call "the media" is so splintered and extreme that everyday folks now live in "political silos" in which they rarely encounter a fact or viewpoint that conflicts with their worldview. Lastly, geographical and social sorting is creating islands of conservatives and liberals so isolated that they never have to meet, date, speak with or even see one another.
We are one people in the mountains, who watch out for and even better one another. In capitols across the country, we are the Divided States of America. Yet, we still have a voice. Every few years, we can decide if the status quo is ok or if it needs to go.
At this point in the game, it is not as simple as voting your party. Both sides of the aisle have been infiltrated and vote in whatever way will keep their coffers full and their reelection odds good. So you have to dig a bit to figure out what candidate is good for you.
As a skier, here are a few things that are good for you: Snow. Public Land. Healthcare. Minimum Wage. Immigration. Campaign Finance Reform. Lucky for you, some of our friends have created a guide to see how candidates feel about these things.
The gold standard for information, activism and advice for every day skiers and how they can save snow in their mountains, POW knows Washington and climate change better than anyone in the business. Click here for their first-ever skier's voting guide, complete with candidate information, positions on climate, energy, and the environment—plus a personalized ballot that you can print out and take to the polls. https://powaf.civicengine.com/
Aspen Skiing Co. is another veteran in the mountain activism game. This year they unveiled the Give A Flake Campaign to connect skiers and voters like you directly to politicians. Visit the campaign site to see how elected officials in your area stand on climate change. Then Tweet directly at local leaders with curated images and messages. https://www.aspensnowmass.com/inside-aspen-snowmass/give-a-flake
You made it this far, don't stop at senators and representatives. Visit the nation's largest and most accurate database of political donations and see how businesses where you spend your money—spend their money. You might be surprised to see affiliates of resorts like Vail and Jackson Hole continually giving thousands in campaign donations to career climate change deniers, like Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Rob Bishop (R-UT), among others.
Do not be mistaken, these resources are not ammunition to continue the red vs. blue war that that is raging across the U.S. There are villains on both sides of the aisle. These are simply tools to find which candidate hold your views, and information on how to get your voice heard.
Please do, our mountains depend on it.