Climate Change

Published on April 7th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


Foreign Wars Turn Red-State Vets Green

April 7th, 2010 by  

Republicans in the armed forces are coming back with much greener views on energy than the Senators that represent the Red States they come from, or the media that serves Republicans. A VoteVets poll of returning Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, comprising mostly Republicans – only 20% were Democrats – mostly from the Red States in the South showed a strikingly stark chasm opening between vets and their Senators.


Asked “Do you favor or oppose a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that invests in clean, renewable energy sources in America and limits carbon pollution in the atmosphere?”

73% of vets voted “Aye”.

But since at least 1993, Senate Republicans have consistently voted and filibustered against all attempts at passing comprehensive clean  energy and climate legislation that limits carbon pollution in the atmosphere.

The vets see the benefit for them personally in a clean energy economy. A full 67% agree with the statement that “millions of new American jobs will be created in clean energy industries”, and even see a personal impact in that these “will help veterans find jobs when they leave the service”.

These were the cream of the crop, relatively well educated, seasoned vets, mostly in their 40’s, with 87% qualifying for either the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, or the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Most were white and Christian, but not evangelicals.

What is interesting about this poll is that while on location, vets are blessed with wall to wall Fox News and Right Wing talk radio, which is paid off the books to  propagandize against clean energy, climate change, carbon pollution, and green jobs. But apparently, unlike the Tea Partiers back home, these Republicans are choosing to believe their lying eyes, not Hannity, Rush and Beck.

The only area in which Republican vets agree with their  Senator is the 64% who agree that America’s dependence on foreign oil endangers the lives of our troops.

In this belief alone, they are accurately represented by their Senate Republicans, who claim that  investing in American oil (despite US holdings of only 2% to 4% of global supplies) could somehow impact American needs, even though America is ripping through 25% of total global oil supplies every day. That is the only poll question that showed that their representatives are even remotely in alignment with their constituents views.

On the climate legislation being once more attempted this year, they sharply diverge. The fossil industry has for the last decade backed Republicans to prevent and slow legislation that hurts the fossil industry. But their constituents are not on board.

“Now let me read you some things that some people believe will happen if comprehensive clean energy and climate reform is passed. For each one, please tell me if you agree or disagree that that result will happen”.

Millions of new American jobs will be created in clean energy industries: 67% agree.

The funding and support for terrorism by oil producers will be reduced: 56% agree

In contrast with this, Collins and Snowe of Maine are the only Republicans in the current Senate who have ever voted with virtually all the Democrats for climate and energy legislation that would reduce our dependence on oil – of which, 96% to 98% is in “hostile foreign nations” rather than the USA.

The only other Republican Senators who have supported climate and clean energy legislation in the last 5 years either crossed the aisle (Specter) or were voted out in 2008; Coleman of Minnesota, and Smith of Oregon.

One; Senator McCain, has talked it up in the past, yet in practice, always stuck with the filibusters against it; voting a full 50 times against it since the still-reviled Al Gore carbon tax attempt in 1993.

Now it is Senator Graham who is issuing press conferences that suggest a planned change of heart to switch future votes. With 21% of these vets from the South, he might be a visionary, seeing a future Republican party that doesn’t hate a clean energy future for 21st century America.

Whether that change in his votes comes about or not, remains to be seen. But Republican vets clearly need to get in touch with their Senators. And their media.


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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • Some of us veterans have known we needed alternative and sustainable energy since the 80’s. I know of one Veteran who knew this in the 70’s his name is President Jimmy Cater he came from a red state too.

  • juangault

    The bottom line, for both Republicans and Democrats, is money. The alternatives to oil are severely disadvantaged by cost. The only entity capable of changing this basic fact is the proprietor of the armed services themselves. I was “hoping” for change with our new president. He’s trying, but still is hampered by a major desire for consensus.

    So, in order to expedite the new world to come, some dramatic “first aid” is needed to stem the bleeding of the wealth of America. I don’t think it’s unconstitutional to tax where benefits are provided. Taxes on motor fuels pay for roads. Securing the source of the fuel is a cost that should be mostly, not partially, paid for by the users.

    In retrospect, I believe most Americans understand that invading Iraq was primarily motivated in securing ample reserves of oil for western consumption. A tax to pay for this war, levied on imported oil from the region, might give alternatives a boost, and reduce our national debt in the fairest way possible. Conservation is the best way, the “low hanging fruit” of saving energy and money, but I don’t see our domestic transportation industry getting serious about higher mileage vehicles. In the meantime, the public should get accustom to the real price of fought-for fuel.

    My whole argument may be voided by the possibility that Saudi Arabia and other major producers pay a security charge to the American navy to facilitate delivery of their product. But the only information I know about is an agreement, set up by Henry Kissinger (and company) that S.A. sell the oil in dollar denomination, and that they “loan” us back the money they get as a windfall of our excessive consumption.

  • Paul

    Got some great links in there Sue.

  • No surprise that after fighting for oil these brave veterans can see the wisdom of pursuing a clean energy policy that creates jobs here instead of sending money to countries that don’t support democracy.

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