For Republicans, Road to Recovery Must Include Clean Energy, Climate Action

January 3, 2023

The circus in the Capitol today demonstrated again, clearly, how toxic the Republican Party has become to rational discourse and rule of law. As Senator Lindsay Graham presciently remarked in 2016, “If we nominate Donald Trump, we’ll be destroyed, and we’ll deserve it.”
I’ve long maintained that the road to madness for Republicans began with the slide into science denial that has been instigated and encouraged through the party’s symbiotic dependence on the fossil fuel industry, and that industry’s need to create an artificial media reality where significant populations could be split off from the mainstream.
We see the results on days like today.

Above, Stuart Stevens, founder of the Lincoln Project, a group of former GOP operatives working to de-toxify and de-trumpify the conservative movement.

Talking to conservatives since the recent election, I’ve pointed out that one clear message was that young people are not buying what the Republicans are selling. That’s a bad sign for a political party.
My solution is that they start the road to recovery by cleaning up their act on clean energy, get out in front of supporting climate solutions across the Heartland where their base lives.
My experience is that when rural conservatives start seeing themselves as part of the solution, suddenly the whole climate conversation becomes a lot less toxic and more available. (see John Cook’s anecdote on that below)
I’m hearing some enthusiasm for this idea, stay tuned.

ABC News:

According to the exit polling, 18-to 29-year-olds accounted for 12% of voters in the midterms — the lowest share of the electorate compared to other age groups — but they skewed firmly for Democratic candidates, a trend that has only grown more pronounced in recent years. Nationally, this age category voted in the 2022 election for Democratic House candidates by 28 points over Republican challengers. That’s about the same as in 2020 but considerably better than in stronger Republican years like 2014.

Thirty-to-44-year olds were the only other age group who favored Democrats in the House this election, by four points over the Republicans, according to exit polling. This is a decrease, however, from the 2018 House races when this age group favored Democrats by 19 points and in 2016 by seven points.

Forty-five-to-64 year olds preferred Republicans in the House by 10 points and those 65 and up — who made up 28% of the electorate — voted for GOP candidates 12 points over Democrats.

Pointing to these numbers, Harvard Public Opinion Project student chair Alan Zhang told ABC News: “Young voters cancel out every single vote of those over 65. Under 30 and under 40 were the only age group to go to the Democrats and they went overwhelmingly to the Democrats. Without the youth vote, there was no firewall that stopped the red wave from taking over.”

Washington Examiner:

Republicans delivered the worst midterm performance for a party out of power in over 20 years. Young voters, who turned out in force, were centrally responsible for this failure. If the GOP is to turn the tide, it must better appeal to young people, including and especially on the topic of climate change .

This election, exit polls confirmed an almost 2-1 advantage for Democrats among young voters and record high turnout for the second midterm elections in a row. Without a course correction, this highly engaged voting bloc will continue to tip elections in favor of Democrats. The GOP risks losing a generation of voters. We must thus compete for hearts and minds by offering clear answers to the issues that young people prioritize most.

On this front, the data are clear.

Poll after poll confirms that young voters place climate change among their foremost concerns. If Democrats are perceived as caring about the issue, while Republicans are not, then young voters will continue to flock to the Democratic Party in overwhelming numbers. While the GOP has taken some recent steps in the right direction, most of these efforts are still on the periphery. Republicans have a major opportunity to play offense on climate by offering better solutions than Democrats. While the Left is busy pushing their government-expanding Green New Deal, we conservatives should more firmly advance the idea that the best way to address the climate challenge is through private enterprise.

In fact, only market-based solutions, by harnessing the entrepreneurial powers of capitalism, can accelerate clean energy innovation and deploy new technologies at the scale and speed necessary. Standing tall on this approach would allow Republicans to make inroads with young voters and earn their votes. Leading on this issue is also pure political upside. In Congress, not a single member who joined the new GOP House caucus on climate got primaried out for doing so. All of them won their general election.

Moreover, in competitive general elections, climate-forward GOP leaders succeeded at the ballot box. Florida Republicans won across the board, often with landslide margins, while running on a strong record of environmental action. It is no accident that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) defied national trends and performed very well with young voters, capturing support from over half of voters age 18-29 . His forward-looking environmental approach is addressing a top priority for this constituency. As the GOP returns to the drawing board after the midterm elections and identifies ways to strengthen and expand our coalition, leading on the environment is a clear political winner. There are few, if any, other issues on which we have so much opportunity to gain voters without losing any. This is an open shot on goal, and we should take it.

One natural place to start is by championing policies that hold foreign polluters like China accountable. After all, nearly 90% of global emissions come from beyond our shores — a reality that Democrats conveniently overlook. A tool like a polluter import fee would affect far more emissions sources than domestic regulations ever could. Moreover, American manufacturers would enjoy an economic boost for their cleaner practices, curbing China’s influence and returning jobs and opportunity to our country.

In the next Congress, Republicans should break the Left’s monopoly over the climate issue. By playing offense, we can deliver better solutions, win new supporters, and tip the electoral scales in our favor.


7 Responses to “For Republicans, Road to Recovery Must Include Clean Energy, Climate Action”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    There’s also that small matter of women losing bodily autonomy, where a brainless piece of tissue has more rights than the woman (or 11-year-old carrying her stepfather’s offspring).

    • greenman3610 Says:

      Obviously that’s a big one – and one that I think a lot of Repubs would like to have a do-over on.
      My point here is to show that there may be some common ground with Republicans who are recognizing even more this week how far their party has drifted from common sense mainstream thought.

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    “In fact, only market-based solutions, by harnessing the entrepreneurial powers of capitalism, can accelerate clean energy innovation and deploy new technologies at the scale and speed necessary. ”

    The Washington Examiner is spouting complete nonsense here.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      nevertheless – they are trying to bring a conservative audience along here, and there is certainly a free market case for the economics of clean energy.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        The free market case is that given the freedom to act, the 1.75 parties in the US who want complete freedom for corporate & oligarchic warlords to rule, have lied, manipulated, destroyed what shreds of democracy we had, collaborated in hundreds of thousands of felony murders at least, and more, to intentionally delay the only climate solutions that have any chance of succeeding, for FIFTY FUCKING YEARS! while giving hundreds of billions of dollars to those already-phenomenally-rich people & corporations fighting most fanatically against those solutions.

        So sure, the free market solution to the ecological crisis is to let the actions of overwhelmingly rich, overwhelmingly white overwhelmingly older overwhelmingly male humans destroy civilization and most life on Earth while pretending that building thousands of virtually unregulated nuclear reactors producing expensive unsafe power decades too late will help in any way besides speeding our demise.

        Those of us who oppose that free market solution can only try to take power away from the psychopaths so we can implement the solutions that will solve something.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      The Washington Examiner is generally wrong, but they occasionally stumble uncontrollably into the truth.

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    “nearly 90% of global emissions come from beyond our shores — a reality that Democrats conveniently overlook.”

    Bullsh. The Democrats offer exactly the same policy a the Republicans–blaming China.

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