Republicans for Environmental Protection Throw in the Towel on “Republican”
April 3, 2012
Republicans for Environmental Protection is dropping the “Republican” — after 17 years of trying to demonstrate that a group can comfortably exist in today’s GOP while championing causes like global warming and opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The group’s new name is ConservAmerica, a name that’s supposed to represent “the inherent connection between conservation and conservatism” while appealing to an audience that has grown less party-affiliated.
“We’re seeing more and more independents out there,” said David Jenkins, the group’s vice president for governmental and political affairs. “Messaging through a Republican frame doesn’t reach those people as well as reaching them through a conservative frame.”
Still, Jenkins insists that Republicans — and conservatives as a whole — haven’t really abandoned the environmental cause, despite what people may be hearing from talk radio hosts and many of the GOP’s elected officials. Jenkins doesn’t think the party’s membership has changed that much since 2008, when it nominated John McCain as president.
“The radicals on talk radio want to define conservatives as much more of a libertarian type of frame,” he said. But he added, “If you see polling with Republicans on environmental issues, whether it’s fuel economy standards or clean energy, you’ll see the vast majority of Republicans are in favor of those things.”
The group also is keeping REP’s green elephant logo.
But some who largely agree with the group’s green goals say the Republican Party’s ideological shift is real — and a big problem for ConservAmerica.
“Under either name … they face a fundamental challenge that the pro conservation party of Roosevelt, Nixon, Schwarzenegger and McCain has become the climate science denial party of Romney, Santorum and Limbaugh,” said Daniel Weiss, director of climate strategy for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
“Changing its name is unlikely to alter the Republican party culture where denial of climate science has become another litmus test,” Weiss added.