(This article originally appeared on Planet Experts.)
Let’s be real for a moment. Right now, Donald Trump is leading the army of Republican nominees for President. According to CNN, his approval rating has surged over the past month to 18 percent, three points ahead of Jeb Bush, his closest competitor. In New Hampshire, he’s leading Bush by seven points.
I’ll say it again: Donald Trump, a man who in his presidential campaign announcement, referred to Mexicans as criminals, drug dealers and rapists (at a time when the GOP is actively trying to court minorities); who has denigrated the military record of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) by insisting he is “not a war hero”; and who trails behind him a string of failed business ventures; is currently the most popular Republican nominee.
It’s fair to say that Republicans have bigger ideological issues to deal with than whether or not greenhouse gases are bad for the planet. I say this not because Donald Trump oozes slime but because four years ago his party’s best shot at taking the White House was a stiff-necked milquetoast that alienated 47 percent of the electorate and didn’t understand why. Say what you will about Trump, he’s certainly got a personality; the problem is, his ability to empathize with that 47 percent – hell, the 99 percent – is just as limited.
But, to borrow a phrase from New Orleans, I say all this to say that whether or not the Republicans are even thinking about renewables right now, America’s energy landscape is changing. As it does so, it becomes harder to imagine Republicans will ever pull themselves from the atavistic cocoons they’ve woven from the moist money pawed off the fossil fuel industry.
It Wasn’t Always This Way
Republicans like to say that they were the party of Lincoln, the party that freed the slaves. And while Congressional Republicans fought hard for black civil rights in the 1960s, the man they chose to nominate for President in 1964, Barry Goldwater, wasunapologetically against the Civil Rights Act. An odd dichotomy, but presidential nominations are odd in so many ways…
Today, Republicans and Democrats have become much less willing to compromise, and while Democrats in general seem to be floundering for leadership, the most strident Republican leaders have seen fit to side increasingly with big business at the expense of the common man, with evangelical Christians at the expense of the unaffiliated or the mildly exotic man, against women’s rights, against gay rights and against the scientific consensus that industrialization is poisoning the Earth.
This is not to say that these issues have any relation to each other, merely that the Republican party sticks to its “conservative” ideas when those ideas are threatened by progress.
But lest this polemic divert into a full-fledged screed, I will focus on the matter at hand, namely, Republicans’ relatively recent anti-environmental stance.
Read the rest on Planet Experts.