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The Very Serious People of the Conservative Movement


“Critical X Theory” is the new phrase that right-wingers are ascribing to anything they don’t like. It’s going to get ugly for those of us who aren’t cynics or idiots.

“This morning at the ALEC Committee meetings,” Jason Isaac, director of the Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation, wrote last Friday morning, “you’ll have the opportunity to push back against woke financial institutions that are colluding against American energy producers.” The email—obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, and first reported by CMD investigative journalist Alex Kotch—offers a window into a rapidly congealing strategy among Republican state-level officials: declaring war on “critical energy theory” within the financial sector.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, held its States and Nation Policy Summit in San Diego last week. The event—attended by a mix of state legislators and representatives from the private sector—featured spirited discussions about a potential Constitutional Convention, as well as lots of excitement about Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s attempt to galvanize voters around “critical race theory,” the once-obscure academic subfield that right-wingers now regularly rant about, claiming that CRT has infected the K-12 curriculum and that teaching students accurate facts about slavery and segregation is somehow unfair to white people.

Now ALEC seems gearing up for a similar move on energy policy. The group’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, which met on Friday, voted to back two pieces of model legislation that portray climate policy—even climate policy that doesn’t exist yet—as unfairly discriminating against fossil fuel companies. The ​“Resolution Opposing Securities and Exchange Commission and White House Mandates on Climate-Related Financial Matters” encourages states to take up legal challenges against forthcoming rules from federal financial regulators around climate risk and disclosures, potentially aiming to trigger a similar wave of lawsuits from states that followed the Clean Power Plan during the Obama administration. This follows a letter sent to the “U.S. Banking Industry” by state treasurers, plus a comptroller and auditor, from 16 extraction-heavy, Republican-controlled states just before Thanksgiving, pledging “collective action” against “reckless attacks on law-abiding energy companies.”

I await the demonization of “Critical Democracy Theory,” by which I mean people who want democracy.

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