Will Roseanne Barr’s Presidential Bid Bring The Environment Into The Debate?

Our guest blogger is Annie-Rose Strasser of the Center for Community Change.

Roseanne Barr, best known for her role on the eponymous 1990s television sitcom, has in recent years taken up a slightly less glamorous job: running a 46-acre macadamia nut farm in Hawaii.

Now, she is officially running for President of the United States. Barr even pulled 6 percent in a national presidential poll that pits her against President Obama (47 percent) and Mitt Romney (42 percent). Barr, a Green Party candidate, has stated that the environment will be one of the main platforms for her campaign:

While Barr admits that she does not believe she will win the presidency, she tweeted recently, “I’m absolutely sure that Obama will win this election by a landslide- exp. If he takes a cue from the Green Party Platform.”


Barr, whose political past is of questionable sanity, may now be the best hope for addressing the environment in the 2012 election.

So far in this primary, discussion of the environment has been minimal at best, and even Fox News has noticed. Meanwhile, an iceberg the size of New York City is about to break off of Antarctica, and most of the country is experiencing one of the mildest winters on record.

On the Republican side, the environment has played virtually no role in the campaign. Rick Santorum has made clear that he believes climate change is a “hoax.” Newt Gingrich has consistently talked about environmental policy only as a barrier to the free market. And Mitt Romney’s most pointed comments on the environment came on the heels of Obama’s recent decision to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Romney spun the conversation from the environment to jobs.

Romney’s overall stance on the issue of global climate change is itself changing.

But the Republicans are not the only ones downplaying the environment this election season. Progressives have repeatedly expressed their frustration with Obama’s distance from climate policy issues. The State of the Union only mentioned the words “climate change” once.


A recent study from Graciela Kincaid at Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab shows that the climate rhetoric has changed in recent months. Obama has transitioned from “climate change” to “clean energy.” Kincaid writes:

What has caused this significant shift in rhetoric? Climate change is apparently politically tainted, a doomsday issue, and the administration has re-branded it under a clean energy and energy independence discourse. The administration has clearly responded to increasing hostility (on one end of the political spectrum) towards the effort to address climate change, scrubbing out words like global warming, cap-and-trade, and climate change from agency communication.

The expectations are low for any significant environmental legislation in 2012. Still, members of the environmental advocacy community see the opportunity for climate change to become a “wedge issue” in the election. Roseanne Barr may be just the character (with her 100,000 twitter followers), to put the environment on the agenda.