Home / General / When Will Conservatives Start Voting to Fight Climate Change? Probably Never.

When Will Conservatives Start Voting to Fight Climate Change? Probably Never.


Every few months for at least two decades, we see an article like this that argues that conservatives, and especially young evangelicals, are really taking environmental issues seriously and this could be a watershed moment.

Bruce Westerman, a Republican congressman from Arkansas, has a plan to help save the planet — one he thinks may also help save his party.

His proposal, which calls for planting a trillion trees to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, was warmly received last month when House Republicans gathered to discuss their policy agenda heading into the 2020 elections.

After years of denying that the planet was growing hotter because of human activity, an increasing number of Republicans say they need to acknowledge the problem and offer solutions if they have any hope of retaking the House.

In poll after poll, large numbers of young and suburban Republican voters are registering their desire for climate action and say the issue is a priority. And their concern about climate change is spreading to older GOP supporters, too.

Almost 7 in 10 Republican adults under 45 said that human activity is causing the climate to change, according to a poll last summer by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Republicans “can’t win the majority back [in the House] without winning suburban districts, and you can’t win suburban districts with a retro position on climate change,” said former South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis, a Republican who is pushing his party to craft a climate plan.

Westerman said last week that the notion of tree planting is proving popular among constituents. “The reaction I’ve been getting from my colleagues has been positive,” Westerman said. “Several of them told me they heard good things back home in their districts last week.”

So, do we think these young voters are going to make this a priority in the Republican Party of 2020?

As difficult as it may be to change the positions of GOP lawmakers, Trump makes matters even more complicated. Moments after rhapsodizing about trees at Davos, the president took aim at climate activists, calling them “perennial prophets of doom” and “the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortunetellers.”

Earlier, in response to efforts to ban plastic straws that end up in the ocean, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a super PAC, sold packs of 10 red plastic straws emblazoned with Trump’s name and said that “liberal paper straws don’t work.”

It is unclear whether Trump will refer to the changing climate in his State of the Union speech Tuesday, with the possible exception of the trillion-trees commitment, which echoes Bush’s unrealized 1990 proposal to plant 1 billion trees a year for a decade.

I mean, sure, the planet may be burning, but what about owning the libs? That’s a real priority!

Again, for decades now, these stories have occasionally come out. I feel about them the same I feel from the left when they note that unions may be weak but actually have really high support in polling. Superficially, people may like unions and conservatives may be worried about climate change. But they aren’t going to vote on those things. It doesn’t infiltrate their lived political behavior. If you are an evangelical, what is going to matter more to you, climate change or abortion? When the answer is the former, come talk to me. At my grave because I will be long dead when that actually happens.

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