Warning For Conservatives: Climate Science Denial Is a Political Loser

Bill Scher

Buried in a recent a column from Politico’s Glenn Thrush is this nugget about the Clinton campaign’s strategy for wooing “higher-income and higher-education Republicans” away from Trump:

Clinton’s focus groups (they seem to be running around-the-clock these days) show that a central wedge issue is global warming, a cultural and political signifier that differentiates Clinton’s self-style rationalism from Trump’s visceral populism.

That’s why you heard her slip the words “climate change” into her spiel so often at Hofstra — and why she’ll do the same in [the next debate in] St. Louis.

In other words, support for protecting the climate has become a net political positive. The issue unifies the Democrats and drives a wedge through the Republicans.

Surely, climate science deniers are concentrated in conservative states, making it politically wise for many elected Republicans to remain obstructionist. But if Republican politicians are losing Republican votes in swing state areas, it will be necessary for the party to at least become more of big tent on climate if it is to have any hope of being a nationally competitive party.

Two years ago I argued that “Climate Change Was The New Gay Marriage.” Republicans bet big on opposing equal marriage rights in 2004, winning a slew of state ballot initiatives. But they lost the war, namely, an entire generation of young voters.

Republicans lacked foresight in 2004 on gay marriage. And today, they lack foresight on climate. And because of it, they risk losing even more voters, but this time, the wayward voters had long been part of the Republican base: older, affluent, college-educated whites.

Republicans will have to change course on climate, or shrink as a party. Either way, Congress will eventually move in line with public opinion, and it will become easier to enact legislation that protects the climate. The only question is if Congress can move fast enough.

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