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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Earth Day Used To Be Bipartisan–But Not Any More

Today is Earth Day, which led me to some ruminations on the lost bipartisanship of this commemoration at Washington Monthly:

It’s Earth Day, and also the 45th anniversary of the annual event identified with the modern U.S. environmental movement. But for the people running for the GOP presidential nomination, it’s just another day to run away from Mother Earth.
At Bloomberg Politics, Mark Drajem has a useful round-up of the views of all the major presidential candidates on global climate change and associated issues….
In terms of current positions, though, there’s less disagreement than meets the eye:

Observers would have to squint hard to detect any movement among the main Republican candidates. They all back the Keystone XL pipeline, embrace the boom in U.S. oil and gas production, say the economy trumps climate action now and, among those that answered, say a deal to cut emissions between Obama and China is one-sided and toothless.

Those of us who are old enough to remember the first Earth Day in 1970 are also old enough to remember when environmentalism was a thoroughly bipartisan cause. Yes, even then there were conservatives who criticized the commemoration or hinted darkly at its un-American nature–it was held, after all, on the centennial of Lenin’s birth! I recall National Review editorially suggesting the best way to celebrate Earth Day was: “Pick up a beer can. Throw it at a pollutocrat.” Like the rest of movement conservatism, this fringy attitude towards environmental protection has very nearly conquered all in today’s GOP. It would be nice if Earth Day were again bipartisan, but if not, then it’s another thing to add to the list of high stakes for the next election–maybe at the very top.

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