Here Come the Green Conservatives?
December 19, 2013
Of course,if conservative means conserving and holding on to that which is good, being green is profoundly conservative.
Across the country, conservatives are figuring out that renewable energy supports the values of community, individual self determination, and economic competition – as well as devolving power away from big government, big companies, and downward to states, counties, cities, towns, communities, small businesses, and individuals.
It’s only in the last few decades that a mutant, anti-science, anti-enlightenment, “conservative” movement, twisted by the “Southern Strategy”, the right’s cultivations of fundamentalist nutjobs and racists, has turned against its environmental roots.
Maybe that tide is changing in the face of overwhelming evidence of an imminent global threat. I hope to listen today as Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder, a republican, gives a significant speech on energy. There is hope for a shift.
A group of Michigan Republicans is pushing the state toward reliance on renewable energy sources, and away from coal. The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, which is headed by the former political director of the state’s Republican Party, Larry Ward, is the latest piece of evidence that Democrats don’t have a monopoly on environmentalism—and it could serve as a blueprint for Republicans in other states who see sound economics in green policies, even if they remain wary of the politics.
“For too long, we have allowed the energy discourse to be dominated by the left,” Ward said. “Conservatives have sat on the sidelines for far too long.”
At the local and state levels, they’re increasingly getting up from their seats. Though the Michigan forum has yet to commit to a specific strategy, it has vowed to work with Republican Governor Rick Snyder to create an “all of the above” energy policy that invests in ever-more-affordable options like wind and solar. At a New Republic event with the Center for American Progress last week, two conservative mayors explained how they rebuilt their cities along sustainable lines. “We started to look at everything the city government did to see how we could do it in a better way, and part of doing it a better way is being more friendly to the environment,” said Jim Brainard, the mayor of Carmel, Indiana. Both professed confidence in the science that shows humans are warming the climate.
Earlier this month, Politico Pro’s Darren Goode amassed more examples:
In Appalachia, greens are banding together with the Tennessee Conservative Union to oppose mountaintop mining. In Georgia, the Sierra Club and Atlanta’s tea party have formed a Green Tea Coalition that is demanding a bigger role for solar power in the state’s energy market. Elsewhere, veterans of the George W. Bush administration are working with the Environmental Defense Fund on market-based ideas for protecting endangered species.