If the people will lead, their leaders will follow, according to an old expression. If that’s true, the Republican party is in big trouble, having chained itself to a platform of more carbon emissions, more oil and gas production, and support for fossil fuel industries. That’s understandable, since the fossil fuel crowd — under the tutelage of Charles Koch — has bought and paid for most of the Republicans in Congress and in many state legislatures around the country. For the past two decades, Republican candidates who wanted to get elected either toed the line established by the fossil fuel lobby or they were tossed overboard and replaced with someone who would shut up and do what the oligarchs told them to.
But the “Drill, baby, drill” mantra that held sway for so long is crumbling as more and more Americans are deciding to trust the evidence of climate change they can see for themselves rather than the lunatic rantings of the fossil fuel apologists.
The latest Pew Research poll, conducted in April and May of this year, shows the number of Americans clamoring for aggressive action on renewable energy and climate change is at an all-time high. That means the troglodytes touting more pipelines, more offshore drilling, more torturing of national parks may find their support among voters has eroded substantially since the last national election.
“Public concern over climate change has been growing in recent years, particularly among Democrats, and there are no signs that the COVID-19 pandemic has dampened concern levels. A recent Center analysis finds 60% view climate change as a major threat to the well-being of the United States, as high a share taking this view as in any Pew Research Center survey going back to 2009.
“The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted April 29 to May 5 among 10,957 U.S. adults using the Center’s online American Trends Panel, finds a majority of U.S. adults want the government to play a larger role in addressing climate change. About two-thirds (65%) of Americans say the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change — a view that’s about as widely held today as it was last fall.
“And public dissatisfaction with government environmental action is not limited solely to climate: Majorities also continue to say the government is doing too little in other areas, such as protecting air and water quality and wildlife.
“Consistent with public concerns over climate and the environment, 79% of Americans say the priority for the country’s energy supply should be developing alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar; far fewer (20%) give priority to expanding the production of oil, coal and natural gas. To shift consumption patterns toward renewables, a majority of the public (58%) says government regulations will be necessary to encourage businesses and individuals to rely more on renewable energy; fewer (39%) think the private marketplace will ensure this change in habits.”
As expected, there is a wide disparity between those who identify at Republicans versus those who identify as Democrats, but nevertheless, “79% of Americans say the priority for the country’s energy supply should be developing alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar; far fewer (20%) give priority to expanding the production of oil, coal and natural gas. To shift consumption patterns toward renewables, a majority of the public (58%) says government regulations will be necessary to encourage businesses and individuals to rely more on renewable energy; fewer (39%) think the private marketplace will ensure this change in habits,” Pew Research says.
That flies in the face of the free market hype that has been touted by Republicans for 40 years. People are waking up to the fact that just leaving the free market alone to sort things out sounds great in the hallowed halls of academia, but doesn’t work worth a damn in reality. All it does is take money out of the pockets of the most vulnerable Americans and put it on a conveyor belt to the already overstuffed pockets of the wealthy. Trickle down? Not hardly. More like a gusher of profits for the few at the expense of the many.
Democratic Proposals In Congress
This research is especially important now as Democrats in Congress are pushing for more policies and economic incentives to support renewable energy initiatives while Republicans are digging in their heels and grabbing onto any lifeline they can find to block them. This is despite the fact that research shows a dollar invested in renewables will create three times as many jobs as a dollar invested in fossil fuels.
“We know that with the right policies in place,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, tells the Washington Post. “clean energy can add hundreds of billions of dollars in investment and perhaps a million or more jobs back into the economy.”
A new bill proposed by Democratic leaders in the House includes $70 billion for updating the electric grid to accommodate more renewable energy, develop a charging network for electric vehicles, and improve the energy efficiency of buildings, among other measures. It also would extend tax credits for renewable energy projects and provide new incentives for carbon capture technology and offshore wind.
But the new legislation hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in Hell of passing in the Senate, where Despicable Mitch McConnell is happy to see the citizens of his state suffer from poor health and early deaths just as long as he gets re-elected. “Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal,” McConnell thundered on the Senate floor this week. Nancy Pelosi calls him the Grim Reaper and with good reason. McConnell’s position is very much at odds with the attitudes of most Americans, according to the latest Pew polling data.
Some of the other results of the polling show that white male Republicans (who’d a thunk it?) are far more likely to oppose efforts to increase support for renewables, but women and younger people who identify as Republicans are far more supportive of such initiatives. That leads to a possible theory that much of the blather coming from conservatives is as much about white men being terrified of losing their dominant role in society as women and younger people challenge them for preeminence.
It would be a shame if the world should suffer a catastrophic climate failure primarily because white men can’t distinguish between their sexual prerogatives and the need to provide a planet that can sustain human life. Imagine destroying the Earth just to protect such a miserable, shallow, self-serving worldview. We expect that from Donald Tramp, who cares not one whit for anyone other than himself and never has.
But The Donald will soon be in the rear view mirror where he belongs. The Republican troglodytes are withering away and they know it. By this time next year, they will be reduced to a small coterie of sniveling whiners while America gets back to providing real leadership to a world that desperately needs it. Power To The People!
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