This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with Virginia Delegate Sam Rasoul:
What is unique about protecting Virginia’s resources?
Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains we benefit from the unique resources in this area. Not only do we have environmental and health resources in this area, but we have other resources such as economic development that ties in with the world around us.
As a parent are you worried about the effects of climate change on your children and the children of Virginia?
I have three children, two girls (5 and 4) and a boy (2). I am worried about climate change. I just recently finished a business trip in Croatia. They are experiencing record heat, as is all of Europe this summer. The Tour De France has never dealt with such high heat. All over the United States we are experiencing droughts. There is crazy weather all over the world that we are facing. Something is going terribly wrong with our climate and we need to fix it.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important and how can these efforts be achieved in our politically polarizing culture?
The largest politically polarizing factor is gerrymandering. It is a big problem because legislators basically get to choose their own districts and currently many legislators (including myself) hold districts that cater to our individual party. Whether it be republican or democrat, if the party manipulates the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor one party; the other party will have a hard time ever winning in that district. There is no incentive to compromise on partisan issues, such as climate change. We are held hostage to the party in certain districts. We not only need to redistrict, but change the system abused by both parties. It is an unfair process. We need to take the geographic boundaries out of the hands of the politicians and find an objective way of redistricting. Groups like One Virginia 2021 are working to change the system. It was changed in California, it can be changed in Virginia. Otherwise the climate change deniers will continue to deny.
Is there anything you’d like to share that is important for Moms Clean Air Force members to know?
Being from SW Virginia, there is a different culture here. Conservatives do well because they know how to frame the communications and talk to rural voters. They use values based messaging to get their point across. Liberals, like myself, are fixated on logic, data and reason and those factors do not shift public opinion. We have to figure ways to communicate more effectively. Whether it is factoring in religious ways or constitution ways, we must find a way to relate to all voters. We can not continue to be so polarized. Value-based communication is working for conservatives, liberals must figure out a way to communicate in this culture.
Climate change happens naturally, but it has never happened this rapidly. All legislators must acknowledge that is happening. The past 14 out of 15 years have been record hot.
Sam Rasoul represents the Eleventh District in the General Assembly House of Delegates and has won The Roanoker magazine’s Platinum Award for “Government Person Who Gets It” for the past two years. Sam lives in Roanoke with his wife Layaly and their 3 beautiful children.