It was science that determined that global warming and climate change were real, and now it’s science that’s determined that the Republican Party is full of “stuffy old men.”
Earlier today, the Republican National Committee released its wide-ranging “autopsy” report. In it, the party admits to several shortcomings that contributed to the party’s wide losses in the 2012 election.
A portion of the “Growth and Opportunity Project” report includes market research from voter focus groups around the country.
Not surprisingly, when asked to describe Republicans, respondents said that the party was “scary,” “narrow-minded,” “out of touch,” and full of “stuffy old men.”
Of course, one of the issues that the Republican Party is most “out of touch” with Americans on is climate change.
According to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, as of last March, 66 percent of Americans believed that global warming was happening and, at least in part, caused by humans, while only 14 percent believed that global warming did not exist.
But don’t tell that to Republicans, who to this day are still adamant that climate change is a big phony lie, despite the mountains of studies and reports proving otherwise.
And it’s that willful ignorance that’s largely to blame for Americans increasingly labeling the Republican Party as the party of “narrow-minded stuffy old men.”
But it didn’t always used to be like this in the Republican Party, and it doesn’t have to stay this way.
Believe it or not, there was a time in America when Republicans cared about the environment, and enacted legislation to protect it.
During the presidential campaign of 1988, George H. W. Bush ran on a platform of being an “environmental president”, and presented the passage of the Clean Air Act as a major campaign issue. At the time of the 1988 presidential election, air pollution, or smog, was on the rise across the country, and acid rain was a major threat to not only the environment, but to America’s infrastructure.
Three weeks after being elected President, George H. W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress, and referencing the growing threat of acid rain in America at the time, told the Democratically-controlled Congress that, “the time for study alone has passed, and the time for action is now.”
Acid rain is caused by emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which react with ultraviolet light and water molecules in the upper atmosphere to produce acids, particularly sulfuric and nitric acids.
Besides harming animals, soil and vegetation, acid rain also damages buildings, cars and was even dissolving older buildings and statues.
President Bush the Senior pushed for and got a cap-and-trade program for sulfur dioxide and other emissions, which is still in use today
Thanks to George H.W. Bush’s cap-and-trade efforts, emissions of six common pollutants were down 41 percent between 1990 and 2008. And, emissions of sulfur dioxide, one of the main causes of acid rain, are down more than 50 percent since 1990.
It’s clear that in the past, Republicans put their best foot forward to help our environment and our planet.
So what’s changed?
Well for starters, there’s floating around in politics today than there was in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
During the 2012 election cycle, Big Oil made nearly $71 million dollars in campaign contributions, 90 percent of which went to Republicans.
But during the 1990 election cycle, Big Oil made only $11 million in campaign contributions, 62 percent of which went to Republicans.
So clearly the amount of money going to Republicans from Big Oil is one of the largest driving forces behind the party’s climate change denial.
But buried in the history of the Republican Party is some semblance of care for our environment, and for the planet.
And if Republicans are truly committed to rebranding themselves and attracting a larger base, than addressing the climate change crisis would be a great place to start.
It’s time for Republicans to say no to Big Oil, and embrace the greatest threat our nation and planet has ever seen.
After all, if it worked for them once, it can work for them again. And it will be better for American democracy and for all life on planet Earth for the Republican Party to return to some semblance of sanity.