GOP Declares War On Democratic Senators Who Won’t Betray Our Children And Future Generations

The Republican Party wasted no time in siding with polluters against our children.

Yesterday, Obama explained in his second inaugural address that failure to respond to the threat of climate change, “Would Betray Our Children And Future Generations.” Politico reports today that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) thinks being against climate action and clean energy is a winning issue.

The NRSC “will press Democratic senators up for reelection next year in red states to distance themselves from President Obama’s promise to tackle climate change.” Politico’s Morning Score — “Your guide to the permanent campaign” — writes:

Votes for cap-and-trade sunk a bunch of House Democrats from coal country in 2010, and GOP leaders think this remains a winning issue in states with major domestic energy industries – including Louisiana, Alaska, Colorado and Montana. Energy is one of several issues, including guns, that Republicans hope Obama will force Democrats in competitive states to take unpopular positions on. “We hope that 2014 Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Max Baucus enjoyed the party circuit in Washington last night,” NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh tells Score, “but given President Obama’s vow to pursue a left-wing environmental agenda that will kill jobs in their states and others, voters deserve to know exactly where their Senators stand.”

We may be in a permanent campaign, but Politico is definitely pushing its permanent rewriting of history. Back in November 2010, Brad Johnson debunked this narrative  the first time Politico pushed it (see “Ignoring Evidence, Politico Spins Climate Vote As Electoral Loser“). In fact, Democrats who voted against clean energy were more than three times as likely to lose their seats than those who voted for it:

  • 81 percent of Democrats voting for the climate bill won their races.
  • 64 percent of Democrats voting against the climate bill lost their seat.
  • Of the eight Republicans who voted for the bill, only one was punished by the voters

Indeed, Stanford public opinion expert Jon Krosnick analyzed the 2010 congressional election and found that Democrats taking “green” positions on climate change “won much more often” than those remaining silent.

It is ironic, if not tragic, that the GOP thinks this is a winning issue in states that have already been among the hardest hit by the impact of global warming — and stand to suffer the most if we keep taking no action — Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, and Montana.

And if the 2010 election proved anything, it’s that in Senate races, climate denial is a political loser:

Fiorina was crushed by climate hawk Barbara Boxer.

Last year, Stanford’s Krosnick said candidates “may actually enhance turnout as well as attract voters over to their side by discussing climate change.” The only losing strategy for Democrats is running away from the climate and clean energy issue.

20 Responses to GOP Declares War On Democratic Senators Who Won’t Betray Our Children And Future Generations

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    One could almost feel sorry for Republicans who claim that climate science denial is a winning issue. Winning elections is not why they are being so stubborn here, though.

    When the fossil fuel companies take a policy position, Republican politicians click their heels. Those who stray, such as McCain and Graham, are forced to relent by minders such as McConnell and Boehner. Dissent is not allowed, a scary situation in a democracy.

    A person can only deny science, public opinion, and observed reality for so long. Eventually he becomes a joke. This will happen to their whole Party within 4-8 years.

    Here’s the scary thing: they don’t really care. They are sick to the money, and if a Senator or Congressman is defeated he ends up with a mid six figure golden parachute, in the form of a lobbyist or consulting job.

    More puzzling is the fact that the Democrats have not been seizing this opportunity. Not all of them are bought. Let’s see if they wake up.

  2. It was very instructive to listen to the inaugural coverage on Fox News yesterday. After Obama’s speech, the two word description most commonly heard was “liberal agenda.” The source that Joe quotes calls it a “left-wing environmental agenda” as if that were a bad thing.

    In this poll number driven political environment one wonders where leadership will come from, leadership that is willing to tell unpopular truths, leadership that looks beyond the next election to do what will truly secure the future, leadership willing to protect that which belongs to all of us rather than securing the profits of a few.

  3. BillD says:

    As a scientist, I get really upset when I read about people saying that paying attention to science, reading science and understanding science is part of a left wing agenda. I wish that I could sit down and talk with people who consider that science is somehow left wing. Usually I can’t do that. What I can do is contribute modest amounts to polical races that may made a difference. This is a winning issue for the Democrats, especially if the media cover the science and the President speaks out.

  4. Ron Kerzner says:

    Can you say “Koch Brothers?

  5. John McCormick says:

    Bill Becker, are you following this.

    We need people of influence to excite the DNC that just maybe, an all-out war against rethug incumbents, in 2014, is the next best step towards next steps.

    Mike Roddy and I talk about making things happen on a budget that equals one week of Fred Krupp’s salary. No response. Busy people worrying about that which they are paid to worry about.

  6. Paul Klinkman says:

    Bring it.

    “$in” is when the earth cooks, the reservoir goes dry, your crops die, your woods starts to die, the megafire comes and your house burns. All that for somebody else’s money. There’s a Florida version of this involving storm surges.

  7. Joan Savage says:

    In the political-economic geography of congressional districts and states, is anyone looking at placement of green industry and employment that would succeed the old fossil fuel jobs, without incurring massive migration to seek new work?

    Every time I have browsed the economies of congressional districts or more broadly a home state, I have found huge economic components for voters, not just a few big donors. Surely some climate hawk strategist has seen this as well.

    One example is that Speaker John Boehner is from Ohio, which produces about 5% of the coal mined in the US. Boehner’s 8th district isn’t on top of the coal, yet it’s a largely urban population that has felt the recession. Does someone know more about green jobs development there?

    This is not a cynical buy-out proposal, we really need to have green jobs that don’t require an immediate migration.

    Instead of vilifying the politicians, let’s find a better solution for their constituents.

  8. M Tucker says:

    It would be nice to just see a poll about the popularity of Cap’n Trade in Louisiana, Alaska and Montana. Your examples are from Colorado and California. We all know how California feels about it and Colorado is a very close swing state that just suffered through some devastating wild fires. They might be able to hang onto their seats if challenged on climate change. We all know that all Democrats are not created equal and Louisiana, Alaska and Montana do not have a lot of them. Those they do have hold some interesting opinions about fossil fuels and mining.

  9. Pennsylvania Bob says:

    In lock-step with “liberal Agenda” you will hear “job-killing regulations” from Fox and all GOPers.

  10. Daniel Coffey says:

    Really, why waste time on senators, when you can file a lawsuit against every large-scale solar and wind project in the US. There must be an endangered species near almost every project in the world, so let’s just make sure that no renewable energy projects are approved due to endangered species concerns and inadequate studies, including for the “well known” “wind turbine syndrome” that is decimating the human population everywhere. Or is that heat stroke?

    Anyway, we must not act too quickly to deploy large scale solar and wind, as that would interfere with a firm grip of natural gas and the wonderful world of fracking. You know, fracking actually improves water quality by providing needed minerals and such.

    Now, for those who don’t realize it, there are elements of sardonic humor above, but humor and reality have a way of coinciding in troubling ways.

  11. Daniel Coffey says:

    This morning on public radio I heard a political figure from Oklahoma advocate for natural gas instead of moving aggressively to solar and wind. He referred to natural gas as not emitting as much “green” gas. Was he stumbling? Maybe, but ah, yes, natural gas is now one step away from “green” gas, not a powerful greenhouse gas. Go Oklahoma and the Republican message machine. Soon greenhouse gases will be green gases. Confusion anyone?

  12. Kelly OBrien says:

    After listening to a piece on NPR this morning, during which a Republican once again recited the “we don’t know the cause of climate change or if it’s really happening” mantra, it occurred to me that if climate change science was framed in a more immediate, personal analogy, it might be more effective.

    Suppose, for example, your child was playing in the driveway, and you noticed that the car, parked uphill, had slipped it’s brake and had begun to roll.

    Would you think, “Oh, well there’s no need to act. It’s not settled yet that the car will run over my child. In fact, historically, the car has rolled both uphill as well as downhill.”

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  14. Daniel Coffey says:

    Implicit in your discussion is a knowledge of gravity as explained and tested by Newton and others. People who experience gravity and die form a warning system.

    However, if one has no experience with global warming – and we really don’t know how bad it can be – then you assume from some analogy. The difficulty is that there are no “global warming test” survivors to report on what is the analogy of a jump from a 20 story building or cliff, and there will be few to post hoc report on our experience with global warming.

    We are going to get one time only on this bit of global warming experimentation. For those who advocate for the “slow walk” approach, just know that every day we study the impacts of large scale solar and wind on wildlife is a day we are not fixing the problem.

    Time to get to the doing, not just the studying.

  15. Paul Klinkman says:

    If one small study is true across the board, finding that 9% of natural gas, which is mostly methane, leaks out to the earth’s atmosphere between the dry wells and the pipeline leaks, and if methane as a greenhouse gas is about 20 times as powerful as carbon dioxide, then about 2/3 of natural gas’s effects on climate change come from the methane leaks. At current leakage rates natural gas is in no way better for the climate than coal. It appears to be notably worse.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It all depends on the economy. If it tanks again, thanks to debt, inequality, elite greed, shrinking median wages, contagion from Europe, currency wars, rising hydrocarbon costs or any combination of a plethora of fault-lines in neo-liberal capitalism, the Repugnants may attempt to blame rapidly falling living standards on ‘Green extremists’. They’ll certainly give it a go.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    But Bill, it is. The Right do not follow normal cognitive pathways, they abjure observation, conjecture, hypothesis, testing, peer review and falsifiability. They deal with reality through the distorted prism of revealed truth, the a priori belief in miracles of idiocy like ‘creation science’ climate destabilisation denialism and neo-liberal capitalism. They long ago consigned the Enlightenment to the ‘memory hole’ and tuned into Fox News, that sheltered workshop for the restless and relentless.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Obama acts, and even if he loses, his activity plus new climate disasters will lead to an upsurge in voting and a rout of the denialists. If Obama prevaricates, again, the Hope Fiends stay home, the Repugnants win the Congress and a New Dark Age begins to fall.

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    More sarcastic than sardonic, I’d say. I do not equate environmental opposition to certain renewable projects, that definitely do not need to be sited where they will cause further harm to threatened species and environments, when there is so very much more land that is not environmentally precious, that is degraded or reserved for military purposes, with the denialist industry’s opposition to all wind power based on phony so-called ‘medical conditions’. Conditions that, miraculously, never appear amongst those paid to have wind turbines situated on their land.

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Global warming test’ survivors abound, in Philippino victims of mega-typhoons, Pakistani victims of mega-floods, Australian, Greek, American or Portuguese victims of mega-fires and Sahelian victims of creeping desertification. The problem with the Right is that they have no human empathy, so a disaster visited on others, particularly those of different skin tone, leaves them unmoved. When it hits them they get the message, and begin looking for scapegoats to hide their idiocy.