How The Republican Party Hacked Itself, & How Trump Hacked His Own Election Chances

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I originally published the second part of this article (reflections on how Trump hacked his own election chances) over on Planetsave, as I figured we didn’t need to go on about that here on CleanTechnica, but then something else came up that made me bring the article over here as well … but first with a long intro section.

Creating this article of 47 top CleanTechnica interviews (and a few other exclusive videos), I decided to again watch some of the Al Gore videos I’ve published. As happens on YouTube, after one of the videos ended, a related video was ready to play. It was this one, a video that tried to paint Al Gore as a liar and global warming as a hoax, featuring US Congressmen peppering Gore with global warming denier talking points and occasionally throwing him off, basically because of how absurd the conversation had gotten.


YIKESI looked at the related videos on the sidebar, and they were all along the same lines. Al Gore videos on YouTube are dominated by anti-science nonsense that aims to confuse people about global warming science, convince them (very incorrectly) that there isn’t global scientific consensus on the topic, and demonize top global warming communicators like Al Gore (as liars, cheats, hypocrites, and all-around horrible people). The end goal, of course, is to prevent any action to stop global warming.

However, I think painting these people as evil trolls doesn’t quite fit reality either. I think the Congressmen in that video linked above seem pretty genuine — I think they really don’t think global warming is happening and have been convinced that climate action would harm the economy (even though the case is very hugely the opposite). Even Alex Jones, the influential anti-government mouthpiece behind InfoWars, isn’t just trying to accomplish evil goals, in my humble opinion. I think he is just very prone to ridiculous conspiracy theories and for some reason very antagonistic when it comes to common scientific knowledge.

If you belong to a tribe that has bought into the anti-science opinion and talking points, it’s actually easy to find a lot of seemingly convincing arguments against the scientific consensus on global warming.

However, the situation should be different for Congresspeople. Congress has access to the top scientists in the world, the heads of the National Academy of Sciences, and the top climate scientists of NASA and NOAA, all of whom would tell them (or have told them) that they have been misled and the science is very clear.

These Groups Say The Danger Of Manmade Global Warming Is A . . .
U.S. Agency for International Development
United States Department of Agriculture
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
National Institute of Standards and Technology
United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Energy
National Institutes of Health
United States Department of State
United States Department of Transportation
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
National Center for Atmospheric Research
National Aeronautics & Space Administration
National Science Foundation
Smithsonian Institution
International Arctic Science Committee
Arctic Council
African Academy of Sciences
Australian Academy of Sciences
Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts
Academia Brasileira de Ciéncias
Cameroon Academy of Sciences
Royal Society of Canada
Caribbean Academy of Sciences
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Académie des Sciences, France
Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences
Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina of Germany
Indonesian Academy of Sciences
Royal Irish Academy
Accademia nazionale delle scienze of Italy
Indian National Science Academy
Science Council of Japan
Kenya National Academy of Sciences
Madagascar’s National Academy of Arts, Letters and Sciences
Academy of Sciences Malaysia
Academia Mexicana de Ciencias
Nigerian Academy of Sciences
Royal Society of New Zealand
Polish Academy of Sciences
Russian Academy of Sciences
l’Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
Academy of Science of South Africa
Sudan Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Tanzania Academy of Sciences
Turkish Academy of Sciences
Uganda National Academy of Sciences
The Royal Society of the United Kingdom
National Academy of Sciences, United States
Zambia Academy of Sciences
Zimbabwe Academy of Science
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians
American Astronomical Society
American Chemical Society
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Geophysical Union
American Institute of Physics
American Medical Association
American Meteorological Society
American Physical Society
American Public Health Association
American Quaternary Association
American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Society of Agronomy
American Society for Microbiology
American Society of Plant Biologists
American Statistical Association
Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
Botanical Society of America
Crop Science Society of America
Ecological Society of America
Federation of American Scientists
Geological Society of America
National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Natural Science Collections Alliance
Organization of Biological Field Stations
Society of American Foresters
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Society of Systematic Biologists
Soil Science Society of America
Australian Coral Reef Society
Australian Medical Association
Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Engineers Australia
Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies
Geological Society of Australia
British Antarctic Survey
Institute of Biology, UK
Royal Meteorological Society, UK
Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
European Federation of Geologists
European Geosciences Union
European Physical Society
European Science Foundation
International Association for Great Lakes Research
International Union for Quaternary Research
International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
World Federation of Public Health Associations
World Health Organization
World Meteorological Organization
American Petroleum Institute
US Chamber of Commerce
National Association of Manufacturers
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Industrial Minerals Association
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Great Northern Project Development
Rosebud Mining
Massey Energy
Alpha Natural Resources
Southeastern Legal Foundation
Georgia Agribusiness Council
Georgia Motor Trucking Association
Corn Refiners Association
National Association of Home Builders
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Petrochemical and Refiners Association
Western States Petroleum Association
“FACT” organizations from Is There a Scientific Consensus on Global Warming?,
“FRAUD” organizations are petitioners v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.

I think there are a few reasons Congresspeople could overlook the scientific consensus and believe the claims of a few niche scientists who have long worked for the fossil industry:

  1. they are too heavily influenced by lobbyists and/or media personalities who have convinced them the scientific community is wrong;
  2. they are simply corrupt and are willing to side with the people/companies who fund their campaigns rather than take the moral path forward for the society they represent;
  3. they are very uninformed because they are just not that interested in doing their homework, so they just go along with the party line;
  4. they are obsessive conspiracy theorists (which could be strongly related to #1, #2, and/or #3) and are more inclined to believe in a vast conspiracy than the obvious truth.

No matter which of these explanations best describes an individual Congressperson’s story, the resulting conclusion is that these people are not fit to make decisions for the United States in the House of Representatives or Senate.

Coal political donations
Political contributions from the coal industry. Note that dark and light red are for money sent to Republican and conservative groups, respectively.
oil and gas political donations
Political contributions from the oil & gas industry. Note that dark and light red are for money sent to Republican and conservative groups, respectively.

Rather than root this out of Republican Party leadership, the absurd science denial has grown in prominence and power within the last decade. For some Republican Congresspeople, it’s because of point #1 above, for some #2 or #3 or #4, and for many it’s a combination. The unfortunate thing is that the reasonable members of the party who were willing to say that global warming is real, caused by humans, and a tremendous threat to humanity were quickly removed from their leadership positions. Here’s one of the brave Republicans who spoke up and subsequently lost his position in Congress (to an anti-science Republican challenger in the primaries):

This doesn’t just happen on the topic of global warming, of course. And the fact that this has become a central element of Republican Party leadership has pushed the party more and more to a niche fringe. Money and clever advertising can get plenty of extremists into office, but misinformation at some point starts to break down, and creating an overall lack of interest in the facts amongst your community also opens you up to power shifts that are based on absurd claims rather than anything realistic.

As I wrote in June, this is partly what set the stage for Donald Trump’s shocking GOP nomination, his destruction of establishment and anti-establishment Republicans who were also competing for that nomination, and his overall ability to get nearly half of the voting public behind him despite having:

  • only the vaguest of policy proposals,
  • some completely ridiculous/unrealistic proposals,
  • no history in public office (or doing hardly anything for people other than himself and his family), and
  • a boatload of obviously incorrect information and conspiracy theories in his arsenal of talking points.

So, going on to Trump, here’s what I published on Planetsave last week:

I get a lot of press releases emailed my way. One flew in this week regarding how easy/difficult it is to hack a presidential election. I didn’t spend time on it since it didn’t seem like a story for us and this election seems like one where election-day cheating is least likely to matter, but it did trigger the idea for this article, because the US presidential election has already been hacked, in my humble opinion.

Ironically, the election has been hacked in favor of Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump himself.

Many CleanTechnica and Planetsave readers have long been obsessed with watching the latest cleantech news. It’s a daily habit — check the latest progress and analysis on clean technologies like electric cars, wind energy, solar energy, and battery storage. However, another daily habit has kicked in and often even taken time away from the cleantech obsession — checking into political websites and news programs to witness the latest craziness to come out of Donald Trump’s mouth and Twitter fingers.

On the one hand, it’s certainly a bit scary, but on the other hand, it is hilarious. It is so crazy — yet real — that it is often funnier than any satirical comedy. One brilliant suggestion was recently put forward by John Oliver that would make Trump seem more like a genius sage than … well, whatever he seems like so far (I’ll let you give that a name). It would be an excellent lesson for society, a sobering one that could possibly effect real change. Have a watch (warning: language some people are offended by is used in this segment):

But that’s not going to happen.

The fact is, to some degree, Trump has been serious about this campaign effort and many of the ridiculous things he has said. People can see that well enough, and the results are looking pretty clear — The Donald has hacked his own election chances.

Here’s how the election is likely to turn out based on a wide variety of polls taken across the USA:

presidential electrion forecastScreenshot from FiveThirtyEight

These results are based on many things, and I’m sure that includes the fact that Trump has never held a publicly elected position in government and is seen as one of the most unqualified people in history to win a major US political party’s nomination for president. However, in the interest in helping others who want to hack their own election chances in the future, I’ll run down a list of beauties that seem unreal but were 1) actual statements or claims made by The Donald or 2) things he has done, starting out with ones about energy and the environment since that’s our focus. This is not even close to an exhaustive list, of course, but here’s what I’ve rounded up:

Across sectors, including defense, even career Republicans have endorse Hillary Clinton because of all the craziness and risk associated with Trump. As just the latest, James Clad, former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, said, “Our adversaries must never hear flippancy or ignorance in America’s voice. They should never take satisfaction from an incompetent president. Giving an incoherent amateur the keys to the White House this November will doom us to second or third class status.”

Basically, that’s the point for topic after topic. Donald won the GOP nomination (which certainly tells you something), but he has spent most of his campaign hacking his own chances at being elected.

Here are some comments from comedian Lewis Black to more eloquently portray the craziness of it all: “How am I supposed to make this funnier? What is my job now? How do you satirize what is already satiric? … This was the point in time [the moment he was watching Sarah Palin give a speech endorsing Trump, with Trump standing behind her], as far as I’m concerned, where we the American people reached the point where reality and satire finally intersected. That’s it. … This is fiction. We are living in fictional times. … This would be better in a book, if you woke up … and read this in a book, you would say, ha, that’s a great book.”

To close, here’s one more beauty from John Oliver from earlier in the year that delved into Trump and some of his statements:

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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