Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful response. I have heard this concern often and share it to some extent, but I have some thoughts to offer.
No — we can’t be sure that Hillary truly cares about climate change. Fortunately however, as a stateswoman working for the public, she will be held accountable to the public for the platform on which she is running.
Hillary’s plan is laid out on her website: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/climate/
Reading through, you will find that she has clear, actionable goals, often with targets to which we can hold her and her administration. Click through some of the fact sheets, and you will get a sense of the scope and level of detail of these policies.
Yes, her plan could be better, and she could emphasize it more throughout her campaign — but it is definitively a pillar of her platform. If she fails to deliver, there is a large contingent of people who will call her out on it — and given the public’s general distrust of her, such a move would really spell trouble if she intends to run for a second term. And that, ultimately, is our role “as a small minority of American people.” Once she is in office, it’s our job to keep the pressure on to make sure she fulfills her campaign promises.
Since climate policy isn’t well understood (or even accepted) by the masses, she has little to gain by focusing more heavily on it during her campaign. She needs to win over those who are primarily concerned with the economy, trade, security, foreign policy, and the like. There is a camp of Bernie supporters who are rebelling against Hillary and voting third party (an unfortunate move), but swinging these voters would take a much more progressive platform than that on which she is running, if she can swing them at all. There are far more undecided voters in the middle, and discussing the aforementioned issues in favor of climate policy will be the key. President Obama has done a great deal in the realm of climate policy, but most of it floats under the radar — it’s just not as high of a priority as other issues for the masses, even though it should be.
It is truly frustrating that climate change hasn’t worked its way far enough into the public conscious to earn at least one dedicated debate question. But any progress toward battling climate change will necessarily be incremental. Climate policies are finally making their way into the platforms of Democratic candidates, and one of Hillary’s go-to lines (unprovoked) is her plan to install half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term. Bernie had a very aggressive climate platform and almost won the Democratic nomination, which would have been unthinkable not too long ago. Progress is progress, even if slow and with bumps along the way.
In the worst case scenario, Hillary would just keep the status quo. On the other hand, Donald — the only other candidate with a realistic chance of winning the election — would actively seek to repeal regulations and pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. This would be, as he likes to say, a disaster.
If Hillary is elected, we will have a president we can work with to implement aggressive climate policies. Thus, at the moment, our role is to make sure we swing enough votes to get her elected (“our” meaning those of us intent on mitigating climate change). While I like to believe she is “all but certain” to be elected, one should never underestimate any nation’s capacity to succumb to populism — the job isn’t finished yet. Post-inauguration, my attention will turn to implementing policy.
Hope this was helpful in some way — I would be interested to hear your feedback.