Politics, huh? Aren’t they a wonderful way to bring us together? Just a nice, cordial, civil way to discuss our different ideas about how our society should function, while respecting each other’s opinions.
Sure, there might be things that we disagree on, minor little stuff like taxes and spending, civil rights, etc., but there are things that, as surfers, we’d do well to come together to support.
Like the continued existence of surfing, for example, wherever we live because pollution hasn’t rendered the ocean an unsurfable mess. Or even the existence of a natural, beautiful coastline, unspoiled by oil derricks and mining operations. And, say, living, thriving coral reefs—those are good and important things that we’ll really miss when gone.
As surfers, we can at least agree those things are worth preserving, regardless of how we feel about virtually anything else in this world. Like how if you think burritos in Southern California are better than burritos in Northern California, for example, you have really bad opinions on burritos and horrible taste.
But still, regardless of how wrong you may be about burrito preference, we can all agree the ocean is good, and should be preserved from rampant pollution and the greed of those who would destroy it simply to make money for themselves and their friends.
Which is where Blue Uprising comes in. They’re a political action committee dedicated to electing candidates that are friendlier to surfers’ interests than candidates who aren’t. Especially during this midterm election cycle—you’re going to vote on Nov 6, right? It’s really as simple as that. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of their board of directors, but this piece was in no way solicited by them).
The PAC focuses on a few key areas: offshore drilling, marine protected areas, sustainable fishing practices, climate change, sustainable energy production, and single use plastic elimination.
Blue Uprising therefore supports political candidates, and yeah, they’re Democrats, who are running against candidates who have traditionally voted in favor of interests that harm the ocean in one way or another. They’ve got their eye on replacing a handful of Congressional candidates—in California and the East Coast—who aren’t ocean friendly, and supporting their challengers who are. The list can be found here.
“This isn't about partisan politics,” says William Rinehart, Blue Uprising’s founder. “Blue Uprising's ‘I Surf I Vote’ events are the perfect way for all surfers—conservative, progressive, centrist-whatever—to come together and agree that drilling for oil in the ocean is unacceptable and that climate change is real. These events are meant to engage local surf communities so that they know what's on the ballot and are ready to vote in the best interests of their wave-riding community.
Blue Uprising runs their “I Surf I Vote” events at beaches around the country. Next one is Oct 28 in Santa Cruz. The idea is to gather a bunch of surfers, have them spell out “I Surf I Vote” on the sand with their boards, to raise awareness of the cause, and to raise a bit of money. Speakers are there to expound on the benefits of voting for the things you love.
We—the surf community—are up against some pretty big players here. The oil lobby spent nearly $20 billion buying political favor over the past decade; the Chamber of Commerce has dumped $90 million in campaigns dedicated to denying climate change is happening, in order to protect investments.
Because here’s the thing: the world is in a pretty weird place right now. Voting is one of the few ways we can exert some say over how weird things get. Ocean lovers, and if you surf you count, are the only ones looking out for our watery backyard. It’s up to us to support political candidates who fight for clean water and public access.