El-Sayed comments on climate, elections and democracy

September 4, 2022

Abdul El-Sayed, Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence, has been sought out by the media to discuss a plethora of issues, from climate policy to the upcoming midterm elections. Additionally, El-Sayed regularly contributes to political discourse through op-eds. Here is a collection of his recent media appearances and opinion pieces:

Projecting Strength Abroad Isn’t Simply About Killing Terrorists. It’s About Standing Up to Despots, Too, The New Republic, August 5, 2022

“If Biden is serious about projecting strength abroad, he needs a new playbook. The War on Terror themes he struck—extrajudicial executions of foreign terrorists—while justifiable, have gotten stale. If he’s serious about addressing the root causes of terrorism, he needs to demonstrate now the same bold leadership he showed when he pulled us out of Afghanistan in the first place. Rather than dapping dictators U.S. presidents have backstopped for far too long, it means confronting them.”

Climate policy IS ‘kitchen table’ policy, Detroit Metro Times, August 8, 2022

“But here’s the key point. Fossil fuel apologists have often tried to frame climate policy as an effete consideration for the well-to-do, coming at the cost of action on “kitchen table” issues in “real America” like creating jobs or lowering the cost of household costs. This moment should teach us something about how profoundly flawed that perspective is.”

Former candidate for Michigan governor defends Biden, says more than criticism is needed to achieve goals, Arab News, August 14, 2022

“I have been to too many dinner parties where politics is discussed and the president is either praised or mocked, regardless of whom the president is. And then you ask, what are we doing to shape their policies and we act as if politics is something that happens in a glass house that we can’t actually engage with,” El-Sayed said.

“We see what’s happening inside but we can’t penetrate the walls. When actually, the privilege of growing up in a place like this and being and living in a place like this is that we can influence that and we have to. So, whatever you feel about the president’s politics whether abroad or here at home, the question we ought to be asking ourselves is what are we doing to shape those politics? If we want better health care, what are we doing to drive for it? If we want better access to affordable prescription drugs, what are we doing to get there?“

The Inflation Reduction Act offers the single biggest investment in climate in U.S. history… and that’s a sad comment on our politics, Detroit Metro Times, August 16, 2022

“But it’s also a testament to the public will on this issue — and the will of 50 Democratic senators to answer that call — that even the skinniest possible version of Medicare price negotiation passed. And it proves that we can do medium-sized things.

But medium-sized things are still, well… things. And that’s better than nothing. The irony here, of course, is that if we want big things, perhaps the best way to get them is to stack up a bunch of medium-sized ones. And that’ll mean that the only way around our broken political system is through it.”

How big of a deal is the CDC's planned reorganization?, WBUR, August 18, 2022

“I think it’s welcome news. You look at the challenges and the way they fell, these reorganization plans really do map to those challenges. You are bringing the Offices of Science under the Director’s Office, so there’s faster information flow that’s about agility than it is about academic publications. You have a real investment in communications, recognizing that the 2022 media environment isn’t one where authority automatically assumes that you are going to be listened to. And then the third piece is a focus on the communication with the government. The CDC is a government clearinghouse for public health. They engage with the rest of Health and Human Services, they engage with state and local health departments. And so they’re building an intergovernmental affairs office in the CDC to try and be a way station across that. So it really does map to the challenges that we saw during the pandemic.”

Can Democrats stave off a red wave? Panel breaks down both parties' midterms chances, CNN, August 21, 2022

“The hard part here is that Republicans think they have a message in pointing to gas prices or pointing to energy prices. But, to be frank, the Democrats have done a lot of good in terms of what can reduce energy costs, bringing gas prices down. And it’s hard to point to something when we know that the discussion that Republicans keep having out of their primary and even into the general has all to do with these culture war issues that just don't resonate with people. You can’t point to gas prices and energy costs and then be talking about trying to ban abortion.” 

What four-way stops can teach us about this moment in America, Detroit Metro Times, August 24, 2022

“While waiting your turn at a four-way stop may not solve the broken incentives that are polarizing Washington, it normalizes the notion that we cannot trust or demand better from them. It tells everyone else that it’s everybody for themselves, rather than everybody for each other.

Because when something breaks, we have a choice about what we do about it. Do we defend it, try to fix it? Or do we participate in breaking it further? When it comes to our politics, I hope we choose the former. And maybe that starts with us, a lot closer to home.”

We May Never See Another Lifelong Public Servant Like Anthony Fauci, The New Republic, August 25, 2022

“In December, when Fauci retires, the federal government will have lost one of the ablest public health professionals in its ranks. His example should be an inspiration to the next generation of the best and brightest—in public health and beyond—to serve their fellow citizens through government. But it may be just the opposite: The next generation could look at the way he has been vilified for his service and conclude that collecting a government salary to publicly debate craven halfwits over obvious truths simply isn’t worth it. In short, we may never benefit from someone like Fauci in public service again. And, that, perhaps, is the greatest loss.”

Why are Democrats boosting MAGA candidates?, Detroit Metro Times, August 30, 2022

"The tactic here makes enough sense on paper: more moderate Republicans could compete with Democrats for those swing voters Democratic pollsters seem to think decide every election. So why not leverage the Republican base’s extremism against them by boosting the most extreme MAGA candidates in the primary? It’s not just the risk that MAGA candidates could prevail in these races. It’s that the general election race gives them a megaphone from which to trumpet their heinous beliefs."