Anti-Environment Talk Is Spoiling The Republican Brand, Alienating Independent Voters

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How does one know when a blue cheese is spoiled? Once the flavor goes off, fear of toxicity ruins the appetite. A river or park, once visibly despoiled, or smelling bad from pollution, loses appeal for tourists. Both are wasteful and upsetting.

It is similar in politics. Prospects of a Union further despoiled by name calling, in which political compromise over environment is even more difficult, holds no appeal for the independent voter.

Most of us care about the environment. Only a fool saws off the branch between himself and the tree of creation. That's why Rick Santorm's recent speech to a cheering CPAC gathering puzzles me.

Rick Santorum, who scored several wins this week in the Republican presidential race, told a cheering crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC this morning that climate change is a leftist scientific conspiracy to destroy America. He railed that the “facade of man-made global warming” might convince people with the “sentimentality” to be “stewards of this earth” to think there should be limits on the burning of fossil fuels:

Not-punditry.
Here a few anecdotes to illustrate what I'm talking about.

The Colorado Independent reported, based on a recent poll, that "A full 67 percent of Colorado voters identify themselves as conservationists, including 62 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents. A whopping 93 percent say parks and open space are essential to the state’s economy."

Field & Stream:

The 2012 Conservation in the West Poll, part of the college's State of the Rockies Project, questioned voters of all political spectrums in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. It found "two-thirds of Western voters say America’s energy policy should prioritize expanding use of clean renewable energy and reducing our need for more coal, oil and gas. Even in states like Wyoming and Montana, which are more often associated with fossil fuels, voters view renewable energy as a local job creator."

An article in Huffington Post explained a subtle but important label distinction, that "American voters who identify themselves as environmentalists are a relatively small group, Cohen said, but those who consider themselves pro-environment are usually 70 percent of the electorate. And most independent voters are in that category."

There you have it. Santorum said that "stewards of this earth" may be drawn toward 'leftist scientific conspiracy,' which to me is pretty close to saying someone who is pro-environment is radical. That's alienating language even if you quibble over definitions. Remember: Independents don't want to be labeled. Avoiding that is one of the reasons they are independent.

Tags: Pollution | Washington DC