At no point in our nation’s history has there ever been a major political party so out-of-touch with the vast majority of Americans’ views as today’s Republican Party.
Whether its the issue of evolution, background checks, immigration, gay marriage, and now marijuana legalization, today’s Republican Party seems intent on basing their policy positions on what they think is best for the American people rather than what the American people actually believe. Since Barack Obama’s 2008 election victory, the Republican Party has made a conscientious effort to openly oppose the views of Barack Obama and his administration and they have continued to do so since his inauguration. It has been a risky strategy given that only 1/4 of Americans today identify themselves as Republican, with that number hitting a 25-year low in the latest Gallup Poll.
Nowhere is the Republican view more out-of-touch with the American people than man-made climate change. A recent poll has shown that nearly 80% of Americans acknowledge climate change science. Republicans aren’t simply ignoring the views of the American people, they are ignoring the professional opinion of scientists throughout the globe. In fact, of over 9,000 authors who peer-reviewed articles related to climate change from November 2012 – December 2013, only a single one rejected man-made climate change. For those keeping score at home, that’s .0001%.
And yet, that .0001% is the exact pot in which the Conservative media have thrown all their chips. As news broke last week of the extreme cold temperatures caused by the polar vortex, the Conservative media had a field day in renouncing those who believed in man-made climate change. Fox News brought on acclaimed weatherman Donald Trump to share his views on the subject and Conservative mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh went so far as to say that the concept of a polar vortex was created by the liberal media. It took Al Roker of The Today Show to lay the smack down on Limbaugh by correctly pointing out the term had been in existence for over fifty years.
So when it’s cold outside, there’s no climate change. But what happens if there are legitimate weather concerns relating to heat, especially in the southern hemisphere where it is summer? This week alone, bushfires have raged across Australia and Australian Open tennis players have been pushed to the brink during the city of Melbourne’s worst heatwave in a century. However, the Fox News viewing demographic is not what we call “worldly”, so that issue did not get the attention it deserved on the nightly Fox News programming.
However, what if the issue was closer to home? For example, what would happen if the country’s most populous state were to experience a major drought? That is exactly what is happening today as California is in the midst of what could be its worst drought in nearly 40 years. Already there have been wildfires east of Los Angeles and Governor Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency. This news item actually did make its way to Fox News and the story itself is obviously newsworthy. Yet, oddly absent from the story has been any mention of the cause of the drought or the wildfires being linked to man-made climate change.
And that is not an accident.
Today’s Conservatives live in what Bill Maher has accurately dubbed “the bubble.” They hear what they want to hear no matter what the actual truth might be. In their world, marijuana is a gateway drug to a lifetime of crime. In their world, those making minimum wage are unskilled workers who never aspire to anything in life. In their world, the right to own a gun was granted by the 2nd Amendment and shall never be infringed upon. In their world, the biblical definition of marriage is the one that should be the law of the land. And, in their world, the earth goes through periods of warming and cooling that are in no way impacted by human beings.
The problem with this worldview is that today’s Conservatives are playing with fire. Literally. By taking such an extreme position on man-made global warming, Conservatives are essentially shunning the scientific community of experts on the topic in order to take a position that is contrary to that of Barack Obama and his administration. As the Republican Party courts millennials, they are attempting to do so by asking them to ignore 99.9999% of proven scientific research. For a generation that has grown up with the internet at its fingertips, that is an awfully big risk to take.
When Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal told the Republican Party to stop being the stupid party, he meant it. Unfortunately, Republicans today have not heeded his advice. By failing to discuss scientifically-backed research on man-made climate change, the Republican Party has, if anything, gotten worse since Jindal said those fateful words 14 months ago. Next week, the polar vortex is expected to make its return, this time bringing with it some significant snowfall. At that point, you can assume that once again, Fox News and friends will be ramping up the man-made climate change denial, all while the scientific evidence continues to move in the opposite direction. Every “expert” they have on who denounces climate science further demonstrates how out-of-touch Conservatives are when it comes to how educated Americans view climate science today.
It’s one thing to live in the Conservative “bubble.” It’s another entirely to insult a generation of Americans by telling them they’re wrong about verifiable facts. By ignoring man-made climate science, Republicans are doing that exact thing and hoping that millennials don’t notice.
Unfortunately for them, millennials are noticing and they are taking umbrage with the Republican Party.