Note from the editors
From the editors
For decades, the world’s most brilliant climatologists gathered and deciphered data and warned that soon it would be too late to rein in a runaway loop of global warming and the disastrous climate shifts that would follow. But the loudest voice, the one that has broken through the noise and is now calling the world to take action, is not that of a scientist, it’s that of Greta Thunberg, a 16 year-old girl from Sweden. For years, there has been increasing evidence from academia, think-tanks, research institutes, and data-driven journalism that inequality is exploding, with negative resulting impacts on social cohesion and government. But the loudest voice to come out of Davos was not that of a world-renowned economist, a banker, a political leader, or a billionaire, it was the voice of Rutger Bregman, a little-known Dutch historian who spoke truth to a room filled with the world’s most powerful. For months, yellow-vested protesters in France have demanded their preferred solution to solving the ills of democracy and the growing disaffection of voters: continuous government by popular referendum. But the most recent referendums have simplified issues to the point of absurdity, leaving governments mired in convolution, contradiction, division, and with no clear paths forward. And yet, the simple fact remains that our only hope of solving climate change, or tackling inequality, is through public policy on a large scale. And our best hope of effecting those types of public policy changes is through what Winston Churchill once called, “The worst form of Government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” So, who really has impact? Activists, or politicians? Technocrats, or voters? This both is, and isn’t, an issue about the European parliamentary elections taking place on May 23. But by moving beyond the horse race, campaigning, party groupings, and broad political manifestos, we are staking a claim that real impact, real change, only happens when the high level arena—where our biggest ideological and public policy debates play out—is supplemented by continued engagement from those shaking things up on the ground. Inside this “not-an-elections-issue” are brief profiles of the people and organizations making change happen in every one of the European Union’s (still 28) member states and even beyond, as well as longer reflections on the broader, more thematic issues at stake. We hope you vote. But we also hope that your vote is where you start, not where you stop.
The Are We Europe Team
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This article appears in Are We Europe #4: This Is Not An Elections Issue