Must Read: The Coming Republican Civil War on Climate Change
May 11, 2013
This is one of the most important journalistic events in some time, by my measure.
I’ve told as many people as will listen, there is an emerging realization among senior Republicans and pollsters that the party is severely out of step with the general voting populace on climate change. Polling data from the 2012 election has already shown that positions on climate have an effect, especially among the important independent voters that both parties seek to attract. The article refers to the issue as a “sleeping giant”.
Last year, I met with a very senior GOP Rep, and advised him that the they would have to begin finding a way to walk back their anti-science agenda – and if they think they have a problem with the immigration issue, just wait and let this one fester for a few more years…
He didn’t answer directly, but a day later 2 of his DC staffers called and were on the phone with me for an hour. I’ve since had another meeting with those staffers in DC. The National Journal article has a revealing passage in which it describes a recent talk by former Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz, who urged climate action to a group of GOP congressional aides. He got a standing O.
In January 2012, just before South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, the Charleston-based Christian Coalition of America, one of the most influential advocacy groups in conservative politics, flew Emanuel down to meet with the GOP presidential candidates. Perhaps an unlikely prophet of doom where global warming is concerned, the coalition has begun to push Republicans to take action on climate change, out of worry that coming catastrophes could hit the next generation hard, especially the world’s poor.
The meetings didn’t take. “[Newt] Gingrich and [Mitt] Romney understood, … and I think they even believed the evidence and understood the risk,” Emanuel says. “But they were so terrified by the extremists in their party that in the primaries they felt compelled to deny it. Which is not good leadership, good integrity. I got a low impression of them as leaders.” Throughout the Republican presidential primaries, every candidate but one—former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was knocked out of the race at the start—questioned, denied, or outright mocked the science of climate change.
Soon after his experience in South Carolina, Emanuel changed his lifelong Republican Party registration to independent. “The idea that you could look a huge amount of evidence straight in the face and, for purely ideological reasons, deny it, is anathema to me,” he says.
Emanuel predicts that many more voters like him, people who think of themselves as conservative or independent but are turned off by what they see as a willful denial of science and facts, will also abandon the GOP, unless the party comes to an honest reckoning about global warming.
The problem is, as polling data and the changing demographics of the American electorate show, it’s likely that the position that can win voters in a primary will lose voters in a general election. Some day, though, the facts—both scientific and demographic—will force GOP candidates to confront climate change whether they want to or not. And that day will come sooner than they think.
Already, the numbers tell the story. Polls show that a majority of Americans, and a plurality of Republicans, believe global warming is a problem. Concern about the issue is higher among younger voters and independents, who Republicans will need to attract if they want to win elections.
The article also describes how the troglodyte wing is digging in against any acknowledgement of reality, and promises “political death” for those that dare.
Worth clicking the link to read the whole thing.