Slate political writer, Christopher Beam, has some "friendly advice" for Republicans: Go Green and become just like Democrats. Your humble correspondent previously chronicled Beam's earlier advice suggesting that John McCain could "rehabilitate" himself by angering Republicans and disowning Sarah Palin. Therefore you can take Beam's latest suggestions about Republicans becoming like Democrats with a huge grain of salt:
If the Republican Party wants to recover from the Great Drubbing of 2008, it shouldn't waste too much time worrying about how to turn blue states red. It should be thinking about how to turn itself green.
And becoming just like Democrats. Of course, you will never hear Beam suggest that Democrats become more like Republicans.
There are signs the party knows this. Reports of actual substance from the Obama/McCain meeting on Monday were scarce, but aides speculated that they discussed climate change. Karl Rove suggests in this week's Newsweek that in order to win over young people, Republicans need a "market-oriented 'green' agenda that's true to our principles." And Republican commentator David Frum has made a similar case, arguing that the GOP "has the ability to reach these people in a common sense, non-fanatical way."
Still, the Democrats get all the publicity on the climate-change issue—the Dalai Lama of green, Al Gore, is one of them. What must be doubly frustrating to Republicans is that their policies can be pretty green, too. There's actually plenty of overlap between the interests of conservatives and environmentally conscious Americans. What follows is a list of a few policies the GOP might emphasize in order to maximize its climate-change cred:
Accept Global Warming Alarmism! ...Even if it's not true.
Save money—and the planet. This one is easy. Fiscal responsibility is a time-honored GOP ideal (emphasis on ideal, as opposed to reality). And there are ancillary benefits: National-security hawks want to ease our dependence on foreign oil from Saudi Arabia. Less demand for oil will also make the price of gasoline fall, cheering commuters. Environmentalists know that less consumption means less emission. John McCain was the first Republican presidential candidate to tie these threads together, arguing that when it comes to energy consumption, less is more. But the GOP can take it a step further: Encourage Americans to consume energy more efficiently—drive fuel-efficient cars, turn off lights, and, yes, inflate their tires. It's not wimpy liberal hooey; it's patriotic.
Ease our dependence on Saudi oil? Of course, Beam would never think to recommend increasing our offshore drilling. And drilling in ANWR is out of the question for him.
Kill energy subsidies. Most environmentalists don't care about the economic inefficiencies caused by subsidies for wind energy. To them, it's worth the trade-off. But they might oppose subsidies for other, less environmentally friendly energy sources. Ethanol has proven to be less benign than originally thought. Nuclear energy still concerns many Americans, even though many politicians tout its safety. And many environmentalists think clean coal is a myth. Economic conservatives and greenies can agree that the government shouldn't be spending this money—either because it costs taxpayers money or because it costs them their health. Sure, opposing ethanol subsidies is politically risky. But so is alienating everyone who dislikes pandering.
Why don't you tell this to Barack Obama since he is supporting those ethanol subsidies?
Hike the hikers. Republicans can make the case that because of the low entry fees, national parks suffer from overuse. If we raised the fees—or, in more GOP-appropriate language, stop subsidizing granola-munching backpackers—it would reduce the erosion and impact on the supposedly preserved areas. Some environmentalists might argue that hurts the park-going American public. But, say conservatives, what about the non-park-going public that is paying for the park-going public to destroy wildlife? Discuss.
I'll discuss. Hike the fees and only the wealthy elite could afford to visit the national parks.
There's a hitch to all this. Environmentalists and most conservatives still disagree that global warming is real and man-made. But as Rove acknowledges, sentiment is shifting as more young people enter the electorate. Maybe the GOP can shelve the debate about causes and focus on the effects of climate change. Then it may stand a better chance of stealing some of the Democrats' green-tinted spotlight.
Sentiment is starting to shift back since more false information put out by the Global Warming Alarmists is being exposed. The latest such exposure was about NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies which is run by James Hansen. That organization recently reported that we just had the hottest October on record. Oops! It turns out that their facts were so shoddy that that actually used the September temperature stats instead of those for October. So "thanks" for your "advice," Chris, but man-made Global Warming is still far from proven. Perhaps you could ask Hansen to come up with better stats. Until then, perhaps Republicans are wise not to become Democrats as you so desperately wish them to be.