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Climate-conscious conservatives try to make their voices heard

Posted on 30 November 2021 by greenman3610

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Peter Sinclair

“The Republican party was with me, Ronald Reagan was with me,” said former Republican congresswoman Claudine Schneider in a recent phone interview. In 1988 Schneider, then representing Rhode Island in the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced a bill to fight climate change. But since those days of congressional bipartisanship and conviviality, the Republican party has shifted to a steadfast rejection of the issue, in part at least in response to pressures and financing from fossil fuel interests.

This month’s Yale Climate Connections “This Is Not Cool” video by independent videographer Peter Sinclair addresses how some conservatives’ views on climate are changing.

Polling reveals that the vast majority of Americans believe in climate change and young conservatives are trying to shift their party’s narrative coming from national politicians. But it’s difficult to change the mind of a base that has consumed false narratives for decades.

According to Stuart Stevens, a long-time Republican campaigner affiliated with the Lincoln Project and a frequent cable television pundit, “It is a short walk from climate denial, to ‘Why should we wear masks?’ to anti-vaccine …. You have an information infrastructure that presents this alternate reality.”

Gale Sinatra, who studies the psychology of climate change beliefs at the University of Southern California, says that rather than admitting mistakes, many conservative voices are trying to move on without explaining why their past positions on climate change have shifted. “No one likes to admit a mistake,” she said.

What change there is among conservatives is happening quietly and incrementally, in some cases under pressure from youthful conservative Republicans. Conservative investment funds are divesting from fossil fuels and some Republican politicians, particularly at the local level, more and more are speaking in favor of climate action.

“We have no time to mess around,” says former Congresswoman Schneider “There’s still so much more to do.”

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. Republicans shun the climate problem because they resist collectivist action. At bottom, Republicans believe "Man is and end in himself, not a means to the ends of others". Any human action that smacks of collectivism, like socialism, communism or fascism will always be rejected by people who identify as Republicans (generally). Republicans and their "individualism" can participate in fixing the climate problem if they don't feel like they are going to be swept away to a government gulag by Marxist/collectivist style coercion. People who identify as Democrats are always ready to manipulate the social fabric, whether it needs fixing or not. Republicans fear change. That's why there are often called Conservatives.

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  2. Democrats, on the other hand, are revisionists.  They see improvement is always possible.  It is often said that Democrats might maintain a point of view reflected in the lyric in Johnny Cash's "Man in Black","...that things will never be right, I know...". Progressives are a group of generic Democrats that have named themselves "Progressives", and are often willing to make changes in most social, economic and political (even religious) systems with no special regard for the suitability of those changes...or even the need for change at all.  

    Between the two groups, the Republicans and the Democrats?  The trick might be to find a way to satisfy the "longing to change things with the longing to leave things the way they are."   But, finding that trick?  I've not the slighest idea.

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  3. Swampfox @1 & 2. You are right about that. Generally the way systems work in western democracies is you get a progessive reforming governmnet doing its thing for a few years and then a conservative governments gets elected, then back to a progressive governmnet in a cycle. And generally the conservative leaning governments have kept in place many of the progressive reforms, maybe cancelled some of the crazier ones. Its kind of worked ok. You had a consensus between conservatives and progessives over plenty of the important things,

    Occasionally you get a governmnet with an excellent balance of reform and restriant but that seems to be rare. Its more often a cyclcial progression of left and right leaning governmnets.

    IMHO the problem is in recent years newly elected conservative governmnets have been cancelling every policy of progressive governments they possibly can, and often it seems just out of spite and hatred. Theres often very little logic to what they do. Its become extremely tribal in America. I dont know how that gets fixed. Biden is trying but also faltering. 

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  4. swampfoxh,

    I have a different perspective regarding current politics.

    The real problem has little to do with political identity. It has a lot to do with the "identities being developed by political groups".

    My two categories to put people into are:

    1. People willing to increase their awareness and understanding of what is going on and learn what is harmful and how they can be less harmful and more helpful to others, including their impacts on the environment beyond their "socioeconomic political environment of the moment".

    2. People who have developed beliefs that they desire to protect against the changes that could come from increased awareness and improved understanding of what is "harmful to the future of humanity" and how to be less harmful and more helpful.

    There could be a third category of people who are simply unaware. But every member of that group that gets introduced to new thoughts becomes either Group 1 or Group 2 based on their response at that moment. Do they pursue learning to be less harmful and more helpful or resist it?

    People who enjoy perceptions of superiority relative to others, and people who want to be "superior" like them, can be understood to be highly motivated to resist learning in the current socioeconomic political environment that has developed a lot of perceptions of superiority built on harmful unsustainable actions.

    The lack of interest in learning that the ways a person obtains benefit and perceptions of superiority are unacceptable, especially if it is learned that their ancestors developed the "life style they were born into" through harmful actions meaning that they owe a debt of "systemic change and other compensation" to many of those Others who they consider to be "deserving to be less superior". That is almost an eternal human problem, the victors making up harmfully unjustified justifications for their developed perceptions of Superiority relative to Other people (or other life).

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