Environmentalism

What Explains the "Republican Reversal" on Environmental Protection?

A book review of "The Republican Reversal: Conservatives and the Environment from Nixon to Trump" by James Morton Turner and Andrew C. Isenberg

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

In 1970, President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. Running for President in 2016, called the EPA a "disgrace," and a Republican member of Congress introduced legislation to eliminate the agency altogether.

What explains the dramatic change in the Republican Party's approach to environmental protection? One recent effort to answer this question is The Republican Reversal: Conservatives and the Environment from Nixon to Trump by James Morton Turner and Andrew C. Isenberg. I review their effort in the latest issue of Regulation.

Here is a taste:

What caused this change? Most explanations focus on the changes within the Republican Party, particularly increased hostility to federal environmental regulation. A common narrative is the GOP about-face is due to corporate influence,the fossil fuel industry in particular. Under this account,Republican officeholders have become beholden to coal barons, oil executives, and the filthy lucre of heavily polluting industries.

In The Republican Reversal: Conservatives and the Environment from Nixon to Trump, historians James Morton Turner and Andrew C. Isenberg offer a more nuanced explanation of the Republican Party's change on environmental policy, grounded in a shift in the party's ideology. They point to three factors operating in concert: "rise of conservative ideology, the mobilization of interest groups and activists, and the changes in the environment and the regulatory state." "Republican legislators were not simply bought off by corporate interests," they argue. Rather, the alignment of particular economic interest groups with the Republican Party occurred in concert with changes within the conservative movement and the lived experience of those regulated by federal environmental laws. They write, "Big money alone does not fully explain the Republican embrace of the gospel of more." While business groups—resource extractive industries in particular—certainly played a role by supporting candidates and organizations that opposed regulations restricting resource development, there is also a strong grass-root opposition to federal environmental regulation. . . .

Turner and Isenberg do an admirable job identifying often-overlooked factors in the Republican Party's evolution on environmental matters, yet it is quite clear where their sympathies lie. They understand that as environmental regulation became more costly and intrusive, disrupting not only particular industries but also the ways of life of workers and others dependent upon such industries, it also generated political opposition. What they fail to do, however, is cast much of a critical eye on the environmental policies the nation adopted or the evolution and increasingly partisan behavior of the organized environmental movement.

Insofar as the Republican turn against environmental regulation is reactive—and it certainly is—they show little appreciation for what it is conservatives may be reacting against. It is simply assumed that federal environmental regulation is desirable and opposition to environmental regulation necessarily translates into opposition to environmental protection.

The full review is available here.

Advertisement

NEXT: What happened in Colorado Department of State v. Baca?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It is not true that environmental regulation became more costly and intrusive.

    What is true is that Republicans have become adverse to expertise and refuse to be constructive by presenting alternatives. Thing they used to support, they’ve backtracked on.

    1. “Things”

      1. This is a good spot to put in my Modest Proposal we all boycott partisan strife, wild-eyed liberals and zombie-undead conservatives alike, until Management caves to our demands and gives us an edit function. Political curmudgeons of the world unite !!!

          1. I mean hear hear

    2. Hogwash. Anyone who denies environmentalism has gotten more disconnected from reality, more intrusive, more expensive, and less environmental, simply hasn’t been paying attention. Ranchers threatened with $100K+ daily fines for building stock ponds miles from any navigable waters, when cattle shit just as much regardless of the stock pond. You could find any number of such examples if you had your eyes open.

      There are none so blind as those who do not wish to see.

      1. Á àß äẞç — Because there isn’t any legitimate federal interest in a pristine mountain trout stream (with a salmon run), on federal land? Just let the cattle into it, and kill off the stream (and the salmon)?

        The problem for anti-environmental “conservatives,” is not opponents who do not wish to see. Conservatives’ problem is pro-environmental opponents who have walked the lands, and seen too much.

        1. Because not every grazing land has a pristine mountain trout stream running through it, so you don’t need to pretend regulating a watering pond is protecting trout streams?

          1. Brett, every watering pond has notable environmental significance, because cattle grazing on federal land is never without adverse environmental consequence—to fish, to plants, to wild ungulates, to would-be predators of cattle, to entire ecosystems. When Yellowstone decided to bring back wolves, which had been locally extirpated decades before, wildlife managers were taken by surprise to discover that reintroducing predators of elk notably improved stream quality, with major benefits for trout.

            The elk, like cattle do, had been standing in the streams while browsing stream bank willows. That muddied the waters, wiped out spawning beds, and elevated stream water temperatures—all to the detriment of trout. With wolves around, wary elk reverted to previously customary upland habitat, and the streams improved.

            The notion seems crazy that there cannot be legal power to let the federal government manage environmental quality on public land. If the issue is private lands, maybe it’s a different legal story. But it’s usually public lands where stock ponds are needed. The private lands in the West were the ones taken first, because they had natural water supplies. Most of the vast expanses of public lands in the West are still public because they lack natural water for much of the year. That is where ranchers typically want to build stock ponds, on public land grazing allotments.

    3. “It is not true that environmental regulation became more costly and intrusive.”

      No, the EPA went from dealing with things that everyone agreed was bad, like black soot coming out of smokestacks, to bogus stuff like CO2. I remember a car commercial from the 1970s advertising that the new car would pollute less than a lawnmower — something unheard of at the time. Now the EPA wants to regulate lawn mowers….

      1. the EPA went from dealing with things that everyone agreed was bad, like black soot coming out of smokestacks, to bogus stuff like CO2

        This massive uneducated generalization rather shows the level of engagement we’re dealing with here.

    4. Literally nothing in your comment is correct. In a way, it’s astonishing. One would think that you’d get something right once in a while if only from random chance.

  2. Probably the fact that the Left morphed environmentalism from common sense initiatives like “pick up your trash” and “don’t dump toxic chemicals into waterways” to “we are going to use onerous regulation, under the guise of making the environment cleaner, bolstered by fake claims of climate change to spark urgency, to forward a radical, socialist, globalist agenda.” But, hey, that is just my guess.

    1. My guess too. Go extreme, generate a backlash, then act surprised and throw a tantrum that the other side isn’t playing fair.

      The Progressives and Marxians generated enough backlash four years ago to elect Trump. My money says they’re doing it again this year, borne out by their refusal to recognize, still, what they did four years ago, and blaming it on Russians.

      1. I wonder why they keep doing this.

  3. How dare you!!!

    With Greta as the hero of the environmental movement, it is not the other side that has lost touch with reality.

    One silver lining of Covid-19 is that many of their worst ideas, like moving everyone to mega cities and banning private car ownership, are dead in the water.

    1. Yes we should listen to a 16 year old who ought to be in school rather then being shuffled around the world by adult handlers who feed her speeches and lines. Why don’t we just make her queen of all the world too while w are at it. Humanity would be lucky to be ruled by such a young visionary.

  4. They point to three factors operating in concert: “rise of conservative ideology, the mobilization of interest groups and activists, and the changes in the environment and the regulatory state.” “Republican legislators were not simply bought off by corporate interests,” they argue. Rather, the alignment of particular economic interest groups with the Republican Party occurred in concert with changes within the conservative movement and the lived experience of those regulated by federal environmental laws.

    Left to the reader: which is chicken, which is egg? Which is cause, and which effect? Why can’t ideological changes within the conservative movement be explained by being bought off? Indeed, what else can explain the baleful transition from Burkean conservatism to hyper-rationalist, ideologically driven, evidence-proof movement conservatism?

    Nor is there any need to assign all the blame to “big money.” Small money has played an enormous role in that, “lived experience.”

    Throughout the West, long before the environmental movement got traction, there had evolved a federal policy and practice of encouraging small-holders to pillage their adjacent public lands, with little or no supervision from government. Or, perhaps more accurately, to pillage with government subsidy and assistance.

    From building roads at public expense to open forest tracts for exploitation, to exterminating predators of livestock (and killing wild competitors for livestock grazing, too), to simply giving away federal land to mineral claimants, and then standing aside while that land got subdivided for real estate, there grew up over many decades a vast culture of federal free stuff for “rugged individualists.”

    It is hardly surprising—or particularly explanatory—to discover those folks would vociferously oppose environmental proposals which threatened to slow the federal gravy train. There is no more natural economic opponent of environmentalism than a guy with a prosperous little excavation business in an area surrounded by federal lands—just the kind of guy the Pacific Legal Foundation likes to use as a public sympathy magnet, to a put a positive front on a Supreme Court case backed by land developers.

    I wonder if this book wasn’t preempted long before it was written, by Upton Sinclair’s, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

  5. What, you’ve never heard of diminishing returns? Well, you’ve got that in common with the EPA.

  6. “All organizations that are not expressly right-wing will over time become left-wing.”

    Give em an inch and they’ll take a mile.”

    And so on.

    You pass a law to protect children from violent parents. It gains an agency or whatever to administer it. The people who join the agency are left wing apparatchiks (because normal people get real jobs in businesses with actual demand, rather than taxpayer dollars, to support them) and before you can say knife they’re taking children into the “care” of the government for being allowed to play in the park on their own.

    The distinction is between the warm fuzzy helpful goal that middle of the roaders have in mind when they wave that magic government wand to create some do-gooding thing, and the reality twenty years later of yet another left wing ravening beast set on the destruction of civil society, commerce, the nuclear family and all those other manifestations of bourgeois tyranny.

    The Republicans are divided between those who have learned from experience, and those who never will. Plus those at the top, who are uninterested in the good or harm that any new policy will bring, but who merely hope to feed at the trough.

    1. It is important to realize just how bad things were 50-60 years ago. Thomaston, Maine had a cement plant that vented a white dust that covered everything in several towns. Rivers would routinely change color depending on the dye a local factory was using that day, and human feces was often seen floating down them. One river actually caught fire, I believe more than once. 10% of the logs being driven down rivers sank and consumed all the oxygen as they rotted. In many places, people disposed of trash in backyard burn barrels.

      Stuff like this isn’t happening anymore.

  7. Well, as expected this comment thread provides a pretty good answer.

    It has nothing to do with policy or economics, and everything to do with negative partisanship.

    1. What, you don’t think there’s such a thing as diminishing returns, that nobody could rationally say, “Bringing this pollutant down from parts per million at relatively low cost makes sense, bringing it down from parts per billion at high cost doesn’t.”?

      I think there are actually pollutants out there we should probably be doing more about, such as hormone mimetics. But, ultimately, environmental quality can’t be the one value that swallows all other values, it has to be subject to tradeoffs.

      1. Again, you assume an extremism that is not present. I’m sure there are some out there who care about environmental conservation about all else, but the policies being offered are not that.

        Indeed, the current state of the policy fight is generally environmentalists are fighting to mantain the status quo of the 1990s, while the right is working to roll all that back.

        1. “Again, you assume an extremism that is not present.”

          No, you assume the absence of an extremism that IS present.

          Example: Congress refuses to extend the EPA’s jurisdiction to CO2, and the EPA just gets a court to give them authority to treat a normal constituent of the atmosphere as a “pollutant”. That’s extremism, an illegitimate power grab, even if you approve of it. The EPA was not set up to regulate climate, it was set up to keep people from being poisoned!

          And I grew up in a rural area, I’m familiar with the idiocy farmers are subject to: Not being able to grade their land to eliminate occasional puddles because somebody decides to treat them as wetlands, for instance. I dug a pond in my backyard, to use for fishing. Because migratory waterfowl started visiting it, I would have committed a crime if I’d filled it back in!

          1. Even accepting your as usual tendentious as hell framing, none of that is anything close to environmentalism swallowing up all other policy concerns, or ignoring tradeoffs.

            Silly anecdotes should be minimized, but are not a reason to end something. Or else I have bad news about just about every human endeavor.

            1. Who the hell is proposing to “end” the EPA? Rather than just keep it within rational bounds?

              As I said, I even think there are real pollutants the EPA is neglecting, in it’s drive to regulate climate change and stop people in rural areas from using wood for heating. Endocrine disruptors in the environment are becoming a serious issue, those birth control pills get pissed into the water supply and actually effect people and animals that aren’t directly taking them.

              Birth Control in Drinking Water: A Fertility Catastrophe in the Making?

              But doing something about that might face political problems, since it’s pretty hard to pull off hormonal birth control without facing this problem.

              1. I’m not talking specifically the EPA, but more generally environmental regulations.

                I will note that your thesis has contracted rapidly from environmentalism swallowing all other equities to environmentalism sometimes getting it wrong.

                Your example of something the EPA isn’t regulating is a cute narrative but as usual falls apart with even cursory Googling. There is plenty of research on the issue by both the EPA and the NSF

                And it’s not caused by birth control pills.
                https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2011/acs-presspac-february-23-2011/new-report-dont-blame-the-pill-for-estrogen-in-drinking-water.html

              2. Who the hell is proposing to “end” the EPA?

                Republicans.

                Trump has largely eviscerated environmental protection, handing it over to fossil fuel executives and lobbyists.

                I’d take various fantasies about there being serious concern for the environment on the right if we didn’t have people like Bernhardt and Wheeler (and Pruitt before him) in charge.

                1. Right, the bodies are piling up in the streets from the toxic air. Do you really have to exaggerate like that?

                  1. Of course he does, else he can’t get the dopamine hit for calling “them” bad while feeling the smug satisfaction of knowing in his heart of hearts “me good”.

            2. Silly anecdotes should be minimized, but are not a reason to end something.

              Or a reason to regulate something in the first place, n’est-ce pas? Yet here we are.

          2. Silly me, I always assumed, based on the name, that the Environmental Protection Agency was set up to protect the environment. Perhaps Brett has a source to substantiate his claim that it was not?

            1. The Nazis were National Socialists, since we’re being hyper literal today.

              1. I’m fine with being literal. The EPA was set up to protect the environment, so that people wouldn’t suffer, and could continue to enjoy it. Not to protect the environment from minor changes.

                And, yes, the Nazis were socialists. They just had a different approach to socialism from the communists.

          3. Notice the response to tales of people’s lives disrupted by completely pointless government meddling: we don’t care.

            That attitude is the key to understanding about 75% of everything that goes on in politics:

            We don’t care about the harm these policies cause. They can’t be modified. Unless you embrace everything about them, especially the harm they cause, it’s a sign of your impure motives. You want to end environmental protections.

            Same attitude for every other policy. Ignore harm, ignore other perspectives, refuse to change anything to prevent that harm or compromise, assume villainy. Then tomorrow wonder why nothing can get done and why the culture is toxic.

            1. Yeah, that’s not what anyone here is saying Ben.

              1. Threatening to imprison a farmer for filling in a pond he dug is just a “silly anecdote” though. I’ve never seen even a hint of sympathy for farmers from environmentalists.

                1. You don’t make policy based on anecdotes. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about personal costs.

                  This is the same nonsense when an innocent child is shot and gun control people say you need to agree with the or else you don’t care about dead kids.

                  1. No it’s not. The guys threatening the farmer are carrying out a policy. The policy can be changed to protect the farmer any time environmentalists decide they want the farmer protected.

                    The kid shot with a gun is a victim of some criminal. There’s no policy that directly enacts crime. Changing a policy might, somehow, in a highly indirect way slightly change the chances the criminal shoots the kid.

                    It’s 100% control of who gets hurt versus almost zero control. Not even remotely similar.

                    1. The kid is a victim of GUN violence. There are plenty of policies that could effect that.

                      I think that’s fallacious reasoning. Just as your reasoning is fallacious. Making a cost-benefit decision does not mean you approve of all remaining costs.

                    2. Policies can be adjusted. You don’t have to threaten that farmer.

                      Guns don’t commit violence and we have a constitution. You’re being dishonest in a number of different ways.

                    3. So now you think the Constitution requires dead children?!

                      It is the identical logic, whether guns or environmental policy – indicting the proponents of a policy for all individual costs of that policy.

                      Making ad-hoc exceptions to a policy does not end well – we need to be a system of laws not men.
                      I’m not sure you understand this fact.

                    4. Sarcastro, you’re either an idiot or just dishonest.

                      Government has a policy that criminalizes filling back in a hole you yourself dug. That threatens violence directly.

                      Gun ownership implies that occasionally somebody will do something wrong with a gun, but doesn’t directly mandate that they do so.

                    5. Brett, the government fines you for the hole. That’s not a direct threat of violence.

                      Are you getting on Ben’s train that policy costs are a thing the policymaker doesn’t care about?

              2. Yes, it is, you disingenuous fuckface.

                1. I think you’re regressing.

            2. Leftists never care about the results of their tyranny. Look at Revell v. Port Authority, as an example.

          4. Just because something is a normal constituent of the atmosphere doesn’t make it not a pollutant. Volcanoes produce tons of e.g. hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, making both have some (thankfully small) natural equilibrium concentration in the atmosphere. Both are toxic gases that can also be produced as by products in normal industrial usages (such as by burning sulfur-containing fossil fuels). They’re both quite suitable and natural to be regulated by the EPA.

            CO2 is different not in kind, merely in scale — there are more sources that produce it, the natural equilibrium fraction is higher, it takes a lot more to kill humans. And also humans produce a lot more of it, for more reasons, and have swung the amount in the atmosphere by more.

            1. We’re actually drawing the atmosphere back from the verge of killing off all plants that don’t use C-4 photosynthesis.

              I’m not joking about this: CO2 levels have been trending down over geologic time, as more and more carbon got sucked out of the air and incorporated into rocks. Before humanity started digging up all that coal and burning it, CO2 levels were nearing the point where C-3 photosynthesis plants, (Basically everything but grasses.) could no longer survive.

              Basically we saved the ecosystem from a major extinction event.

              1. That’s actually a stronger argument for massively drawing down CO2 production. Then after atmospheric concentration drops below 170ppm all the vegetarians die off since only the ruminants survive and we can restart the advancement of humanity again. Sure, we’ll lose a good half the population and be set back a century, but it’s what they wanted, after all.

                My modest proposal is that we just have to make sure that every one has to pre-register their preferences before we start so they get held to it – you want fossil free then that means no meat for you when all the plants die (and those who voted in favor of effective fuels will decide on the children on a case by case basis if they’re redeemable).

    2. Do you have anything useful to add, other than coming in, seeing some comments, (sometimes misinterpreting them as you did Brett’s) and then barking “everyone here is so partisan but me”.

      1. I posit a thesis as to what the explanation is, m_k.

        It’s not that it’s partisan, it’s that the posts here largely say they’re against environmental reform because the liberals who want it are bad commies.
        Skipping, you know, actual policy questions.

        1. It’s your same hypothesis, virtually every time. Yes, in life, there are times people will say “bad” just because a Republican said it and “good” just because a Democrat said it, and vice versa. However, that’s not happened here.

          In this case, you said “all swans are white” and in the first comment by ABCD troll we see a black swan; he made an economic argument not a partisan one, and likewise Brett’s explicit and very cogent point about diminishing returns is another black swan to your all swans are white (all criticism is partisanship) hypothesis.

          So, therefore, revise your hypothesis. Not to mention make better measurements in the first place.

          1. I see. You think I’m making a superlative argument when I’m making a general argument. Well allow me to disabuse you of that. Do you disagree that there’s a whole bunch of purely anti-liberal posts here?

            Now, the VC is hardly the GOP generally. But I do think the momentum here is correlative of the momentum in the GOP.

            And the momentum is towards owning the libs being it’s own reward.

            1. I’m making an empiricist argument whereas you’re making a rhetorical one. As a positivist like you are, I’ll let you decide which is superior.

              Now you’re backtracking, and trying to get agreement on anti-liberal comments. Sure, they exist, in roughly similar proportion to anti-conservative or TDS comments. Lots of hot air all around.

              Anyway, to your final sentence, I will agree that the right has stopped playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules in the culture war, partially led by Trump, and partially because the mask has come off the Democrats because they aren’t policing their far left wing so as to not scare the normies. Why do you define this rare pushback from the right as trying to “own the libs”?

    3. The left grinds people under the wheels of progress and turns a blind eye to the human damage. Why are there so many negative comments about that?

      1. Same logic: the right loves having kids in cages.

        Don’t be an empty propagandist. I’ve seen you do better.

        1. Obama built those cages. Trump changed the policy so they stopped being used.

          1. I saw pics of kids in cages during the Trump admin. This means Trump must love it, and so must you.

            1. Hence the negative comments. At least you don’t have to worry that the negative comments are undeserved.

              1. Ben, you understand that I don’t believe that, right? I’m using your argument against you.

                The left cares about people. Perhaps too much. But this populist claptrap? It’s ignorant at best.

                1. I don’t agree. Many times I will mention the people hurt by something. It only matters to the left when they see a personal advantage or their vanity is engaged.

                  1. Ben, you’re describing the necessary behavior of anyone making a policy, rule, or law. There are always winners and losers.

                    It’s not a left-right thing.

                    1. A rule, policy, or law need not be enacted. Don’t be “winners” and you stop creating victims. Is the rule, law, or policy absolutely, critically necessary? Or does it just appeal to vanity? Vanity says I can make these choices for others better than they can make them for themselves. Vanity says they need me to save them from bogeyman XYZ.

                      It’s absolutely a left-right thing. The left wants more rules, more policies, more laws, and thus more victims of those rules, policies, and laws. The right wants fewer.

                      The left handwaves and hides and gaslights and sometimes revels in the human damages caused. The stated intention of the rule, policy, or law is agreeable so the harmful results … whatever, change the subject. That’s the opposite of caring about people.

                    2. Ben – refraining from action is also a policy. It also has winners and losers.

                      The right wants a whole bunch of policies as well, don’t be daft.

                    3. Fewer is fewer and more is more.

                      And not enacting something victimizes no one.

                    4. Ben – mild alteration.

                      While not enacting something victimizes no one, it may leave many victims without relief.

                      Of course, that’s what courts of equity are for. Picking on an example above: you’ve deposited your ash on my property, here’s your preliminary injunction not to do it and a $1k/d fine if you do. In that case I’d actually prefer to leave the property and get paid for it.

  8. It is one thing to say that environmental regulation is often ham-handed and over broad with little recognition of a balancing of costs and quite another to justify a retreat based on a rejection of climate science, really any science, that suggests that there are long term damages to our planet that are being ignored.

    1. Can you point me to a cost benefit analysis that can’t be shredded by an undergraduate? Or even any CBA that‘s not obviously wrong (ex: simply claims there are no benefits)? I used to read the IPCC reports on long haul flights (not the Summary for Policymakers, the actual reports), and they explicitly disclaim any CBA as outside their purview (I haven’t read the most recent, so if it’s there just say so – I don’t cross oceans anymore).

      Every CBA I’ve seen using IPCC data – including RCP 8.5 which I find fantastical – show a net benefit integrated over every time period* including through the expanded use of fossil fuels through at least the next century (I haven’t seen any models beyond 2200, and as someone who builds artificial intelligence to predict things for a living I don’t trust anything even to 2050 – the assumptions in the models drown out the actual science and the historical fittings and data selection choices are all seemingly valid, equally arbitrary, and yield divergent results – I might buy a forecast over a decade because that’s tied to solar activity which we can forecast moderately well, but even that’s a crapshoot).

      * I vaguely recall a CBA 15-20 years ago that I didn’t think was obviously wrong showing cumulative costs overcoming benefits towards the end of the century (this assumed the loss of most major port cities due to rising sea levels), followed by benefits again overcoming costs as we re-normalized to a slightly shrunken landmass with improved but shifted agriculture. If that description rings a bell for anyone, please say so.

  9. When class warfare rhetoric was losing steam at the polls in the 1970s, it was noted the left was shifting to environmentalism. What do they have in common?

    Both are rhetorical arguments for detailed control of business. And the Republicans are generally against that.

    No mystery here.

    Oh, and worldwide and through history, you go into politics so you can get in the way of business, so you can get paid to get back out of the way.

    Nah. Just because that’s rampant in dictatorships and large struggling democracies like India and Brazil doesn’t mean it happens here, where they just need a better cover meme that gets useful ragers on their (the real purpose of memes) side while the pols get mysteriously rich.

    Nah. Nevermind.

  10. So you don’t believe the scientists or the politicians on the left, because everything is done in bad faith.

    But you do believe the businessmen and politicians on the right, because they talk about reducing the size of government, which means they’re pure.

    Pure, fact-free ideologue right here.

    1. What about the scientists on the left who think the Republicans are right on this one? How do you square that circle? Just bought off?

      Examples:
      Caleb Rossiter, PhD Democratic Committee Advisor, House Foreign Affairs Advisor (former, obviously)
      Patrick Moore, Greenpeace (former, obviously)

  11. Some months ago I was on Youtube looking for something else and happened upon one of Richard Nixon’s state of the union addresses (I think 1972 but don’t remember for sure which year), so I decided to listen to it. It was incredible. He talked at length about the need to build strong communities, the need to pay it forward so that our children and grandchildren can benefit from the same opportunities we had, the importance of education, and the need to be good citizens, both individuals and corporately.

    In other words, it was so completely removed from current Republican philosophy as to make one wonder if it’s even the same party any more.

    I’m sure there were multiple factors that went into the why of it, but it saddens me greatly that the GOP has moved from being a party of good citizenship to a party of what’s in it for me. Although a Democrat, I grew in in a Republican family, and if the GOP hadn’t forsaken good citizenship for greed I might still be a Republican myself.

    1. Some months ago I was on Youtube looking for something else and happened upon one of JFK’s inauguration (I think 1961 but don’t remember for sure which year), so I decided to listen to it. It was incredible. He talked at length about the need to build strong communities, the need to pay it forward so that our children and grandchildren can benefit from the same opportunities we had, the importance of education, and the need to be good citizens, both individuals and corporately.

      In other words, it was so completely removed from current Democrat philosophy of grievance politics as to make one wonder if it’s even the same party any more.

      I’m sure there were multiple factors that went into the why of it, but it saddens me greatly that the Democrats have moved from being a party of good citizenship to a party of what’s in it for me. Although a Republican, I grew in in a Democrat family, and if the Dems hadn’t forsaken good citizenship for Marxist politics I might still be a Democrat myself.

      1. the need to build strong communities, the need to pay it forward so that our children and grandchildren can benefit from the same opportunities we had, the importance of education, and the need to be good citizens, both individuals and corporately.

        In other words, it was so completely removed from current Democrat philosophy of grievance politics

        Except that community and generational class mobility is still very much part of Democratic rhetoric. Not so for Krychek_2’s Nixon quote.

      2. I am not inclined to take seriously anyone who thinks that current Democratic Party politics is even remotely close to Marxism, but thanks for playing. It would take the light from Marxism millions of years to travel to current Democratic Party politics.

        Does it occur to you that if the Democratic Party actually were Marxist, it would not be raking in millions of dollars in campaign contributions from Wall Street (which it does)?

        1. Joe Biden: Well known radical Marxist.

        2. The Green New Deal, which Biden and many of the now defunct candidates support, is explicitly in the words of it’s drafters, socialist. Also, many Democrats are supporting BLM, an explicitly Marxist organization in the words of its founders. Biden’s 4th of July speech about systemic racism and America’s founding may as well have been delivered by a BLM activist. Now, you can say it’s all a ploy, as Biden used to pal around with segregationist, but he’s also not calling for moderation either.

          You’re also using a no true scottsman’s fallacy…that’s not “real” marxism you say. Still, we have big tent politics and only two parties, both of which get protection money from Wall Street in exchange for policy preferences, this can exist simultaneously with Democrats having a small but vocal portion of their base being Marxist.

          I think we can all agree on something: Democrats have gone left and Republicans have gone right. The post WWII overlap in party ideology is mostly gone.

          1. I’m not making the argument that Democrats aren’t real Marxists; I’m making that argument that Democrats (or at least most Democrats; you can probably find a few exceptions) aren’t Marxists at all.

            And here’s the thing: Nobody is 100% right about everything, and nobody is 100% wrong about everything. I disagree with probably about 80% of what Karl Marx said, but the fact that you can find an occasional issue here or there on which I agree with him does not make me a Marxist. Mussolini made the trains run on time but that does not mean that people who support trains running on time are fascists, or that it’s a bad thing for trains to run on time.

            You’re basically making an ad hominem argument combined with a guilt by association argument. The Green New Deal is either good policy or bad policy, and who supports it (or for that matter opposes it) is irrelevant to that question. And it should rise or fall on whether it’s good policy or bad policy, and not by the claim that it’s a socialist policy. Local fire departments are socialist, but I don’t hear you arguing to disband them.

            If you look at Democratic Party policies taken as a whole, they’re not Marxist. Not even close. And not even if you can find stuff to cherry pick to support your contrary claim.

            1. So, you’re admitting that there are literal Marxists in the Democrat party. Then really, what we disagree on is how Marxist the Democrat Party is, not that there aren’t Marxists in the mix.

              You say “cherry picking” meaning you think it’s a 1 or so on a scale of 1 to 10.

              The problem you run into, though, in your contention, is that the Dem party, such as it is, in both actions and deeds, either placates the Marxists (no denunciation of the riots/looting, even from Senate Party Officials, those resolutions failed) or the party supports their policy agenda with the Green New Deal when there is overlap with their policy agenda of bigger government.

              You end up where a lot of leftists end up, that is, if there is not singular leader of a movement, there is dispersed responsibility, and thus plausible deniability that they rely (like you right now). I’m not the biggest fan of the GOP, but they are willing to shut down their extreme wings and say “those guys don’t speak for us”. What the left needs is another “Sista Soulja moment” against the Marxists.

              1. Re your first paragraph, Ted Bundy was a Republican, so it must be admitted that there are mass murderers in the Republican party, so we really disagree on how murderous the GOP is and not that there aren’t any murderers in the mix. I’m sorry, but that’s a very silly argument. You don’t define an entire movement by its lunatic fringes.

                I’ve heard lots of denunciations from Democrats of rioting and looting, starting with the governors and mayors in which the rioting and looting are taking place (or were taking place; it seems to be dying down). If you’re not hearing them it’s because you’re not listening. One Democrat after another has said that peaceful protest is fine; violence and looting are not.

                With regard to the Green New Deal, I’m not convinced it’s a Marxist policy, but for sake of argument assume you’re right. When there is an issue on which Marxists and Democrats agree, I would expect both Marxists and Democrats to support that issue. Just as when Republicans and white supremacists happen to agree on an issue, you’ll find both Republicans and white supremacists supporting that issue. That’s the way politics works. It does not mean that Republicans are white supremacists or that Democrats are Marxists. It means there happens to be an occasional issue on which they agree with each other.

                You’re engaging in the logical fallacy of undistributed middle:

                Hitler was bad
                Hitler loved dogs
                Therefore dog lovers are bad

                1. Amusing, and you don’t even have your fallacies right. I would be making the fallacy of composition if I wasn’t specifically saying a PORTION of the Dem party is Marxist…I never said the whole party was. We were just debating how much of it was until you backtracked suddenly. You’re doing exactly what I said you would do, using the plausible deniability of there not being a single person in charge of the Marxist movement to say “it’s not us, it’s them over there”. Ignoring the words of the BLM founders and complicity of the rest of the party.

                  And I called the Green New Deal is explicitly socialist. Socialism is about a half step from communism. And please don’t lob the “but Nordic nations” thing at me, those are capitalistic countries with big welfare states.

                  Lots of denunciations…don’t make me laugh. Those very same mayors and governors allowed it to happen, over and over, and Senate and House Dems voted down a resolution to condemn rioting and looting. My God, they declared a new sovereign nation in the middle of Seattle. Ike sent in federal troops when the Democrats protested like that with the support of a governor.

                  1. I don’t think the logical fallacy of composition is what you seem to think it is, but I’m also not interested in going down yet another rabbit trail with you, so I will let that pass.

                    I haven’t said a word about there not being a single person in charge, because that’s not the issue. The issue is all the things that you conflate with Marxism. Marxism has a very specific meaning, and neither the Democratic Party nor the Green New Deal nor BLM are anything even close to it. It’s a taxonomic category error. You could equally as well be claiming that mosquitoes are mammals. Yes, there are some similarities — mosquitoes and mammals each have legs, for example — but the differences are far more significant.

                    And how long exactly did that sovereign nation in the middle of Seattle last? At this point you’ve gone beyond cherry picking facts.

          2. mad_kalak — I think we can all agree on something: Democrats have gone left and Republicans have gone right.

            That is crazy propaganda. The Democratic Party is far to the right of even Eisenhower Republicans, and even farther to the right of where Democrats were 50 years ago. Democrats have been chasing Republicans rightward at least since the Clinton administration. When was the last time you saw any prominent Democratic leader express solidarity with organized labor, as a principle? And please note, if it happens, that isn’t Marxism, or even close.

            There are leftists (although very few Marxists) in today’s politics. Only a few lesser Democratic lights are among them, and they can’t get the time of day from Democratic Party leadership.

            Calling Democrats commies seems all the rage among movement conservatives. It is pure political positioning. You have to be pretty gullible to actually fall for it.

            1. Under your union rubric, at least in San Diego and Phoenix, the country has gone far left. In both cities every election year every campaign banner is plastered with the logos of which unions support whom, precisely because identifying union backing is seen as a necessary condition to winning by both parties.

              So under your model the country has gone so far left no one even has to say anything anymore, because failure to get sufficient endorsements is an automatic failure.

  12. Nixon domestically was a moderate New Dealer, like Ike was. Let’s call it New Deal Lite.

    The New Deal consensus collapsed after 1968 so EPA and environmentalism were the last gasp of New Deal big government.

    Dems went left and GOP went right, the GOP New Deal Lite (NE and California) old guard lost all influence. Social conservative southerners started voting GOP and midwest small government Taft types re-emerged, they were not interested in government solutions to any problems.

    1. This says a lot more than Bob perhaps intended. The Republican reversal occurred when the GOP turned on the New Deal.

      1. “The Republican reversal occurred when the GOP turned on the New Deal.”

        That is exactly what I intended to say.

        1. More like, when the GOP voting base got tired of the GOP being a copy of the Democratic party.

          1. “tired of the GOP being a copy of the Democratic party”

            Ok. Its the same thing.

            As I said, Ike and Nixon were “Let’s call it New Deal Lite” in Domestic affairs.

            1. I’d be interested in seeing the polling on how many on the GOP don’t like the New Deal.

              It probably saved the US from a socialist revolution.

              1. The GOP eventually adjusted and then supported the New Deal for a long time. Was any New Deal legislation rolled back other than by Taft-Hartley?

                Ike beat Taft and refused to support any roll back.

                1. Oh, you mean now.

                  Let’s poll in the American System and Free Silver too. Also ancient history.

                  1. I mean, you’re the one who brought up the New Deal.

                    But Social Security is rather politically vital even today. So is the NLRB, for that matter.

                    1. Yeah, to explain what happened 45 years ago.

                      Who exactly is after Social Security?

                    2. Bob, just out of curiosity, if you were a member of Congress, and a vote were being taken on whether to abolish social security, how would you vote?

                    3. While I’m not that Bob, I am a Bob, so I’ll answer anyway.

                      If it were a straight “the program commonly known as “social security” is no more” I would vote No, under an effective theory of promissory estoppel (yes, as a Congressman I can just break my word, but that’s why I’m not in Congress you see).

                      If it were something along the lines of “people under will have a lump sum deposited into the IRA of their choice through their current employer totaling their to-date contributions to SS, people over 40 may elect to stay in SS or take the lump sum but must make this decision within the next year. Failure to make an election will result in an IRA being randomly allotted among (list of standard brokers) with funds invested into an index fund and fees set at (some really low rate such that the brokers only want them because of the volume expected)” then I would vote Yes, even though I’m sure I missed a few important parts (like SSDI – definitely missed that). And yes, that would mean we’d have to make up the difference for the 40+ year olds who stay in SS and “overdraw” their “investment” by living too long out of the general treasury, but at least we’d have to be honest about it.

      2. For a long time there, there wasn’t really much difference between the GOP and the Democratic party. The Democratic party had become dominant enough during the New Deal that the GOP was suffering from a kind of Stockholm syndrome. This really started breaking down as the nation finally became wealthy enough to afford alternative media.

        I suppose it’s understandable that Democrats would view this as a sort of golden age, rather than democracy being broken.

    2. “They were not interested in government solutions to any problems.”

      I think reasonable minds can differ as to which problems are best suited to government solutions, but I see no reasonable argument that there are no problems at all that are best suited to government solutions. And conservative antipathy to government has reached the point where it strikes me as approaching pathological in some cases.

      1. You will be happy then with the emerging GOP of Josh Hawley and Tucker Carlson, economic populism coupled with social conservatism.

        Government used to push GOP aims, not merely reactive or satisfied with tax cuts.

      2. No, I think we’d both be much happier with a GOP who thinks the government can do no good than one that thinks it’s great.

        Remember (or seen a video on it like I have) the Parents Music Resource Center that put that little explicit lyrics sticker on albums? (Google “Twisted Sister Congress” if you don’t). Or remember the actual text and purpose of the law that housed Section 230 that protects so many online platforms? Yeah, that’s the Communications Decency Act – all of which was struck down except that clause. I really don’t want a GOP who thinks the government is good at doing things, because I find that terrifying, and you should too.

        Now I just need to convince you to apply that to the DNC too.

  13. There are no Republicans any more who are knowledgeable about environmental issues. They just parrot talking points from oil company stooges. They are isolated from the community of knowledgeable people, not only here in the U.S. but in the Western world.

    They have backtracked on their prior positions. They do not support ideas pushed by Nixon, Ford and Reagan. Even in the past few years — look up the Republican position on “cap and trade” and you will see what I mean.

    They simply do not care. For two years they controlled the federal government, and had a chance to put into place their own alternatives. Why didn’t they? Because they don’t have any. Environmental concerns do not take up any Republican brain space. As usual, they just complain and complain, and leave it to us grownups to clean up the mess to the extent we can.

    1. It’s actually not quite as universal as, say, guns or immigration.

      Prof. Adler is a Republican and is pretty legit on the issue.
      I also play D&D with an Baptist deacon who is on point about environmental stewardship.

      1. Which edition?

        1. Pathfinder 1e alternating with Mutants & Masterminds.

          1. I’m into base 2nd edition or various retro-clones myself. I have also found that 5e is a good compromise between the Pathfinder/3e rules bloat and older systems. I’m not familiar with Mutants & Masterminds.

    2. The consensus GOP position is we need no new “alternatives”, just stop crazy Dem plans is enough. Though I think a new “waters of the US” reg was issued, that is an “alternative”.

      Most think the environment is fine, CO2 is not a pollutant and global warming is a scam. You disagree, fine.

      Cute though that you think any GOP “alternative” could pass cloture in the Senate.

      1. Being proud of becoming a purely reactionary party is quite a choice..

        1. Resistance to change is a conservative virtue.

          1. My dispute with modern conservatism is not that I disagree that there are some things worth preserving. I agree with Chesterton that before you tear down a fence you should probably find out why it was erected in the first place.

            Rather, my dispute with modern conservatism is the knee-jerk idea that any change is bad. That’s the way it was done in the time of Henry IV, so that’s the way we should still do it today, even if circumstances have changed completely since the days of Henry IV.

            Some change is good, some not so much. Case by case.

            1. I favor a lot of change.

            2. OK, I think we can agree that the left’s parody of conservatism isn’t very smart. Most cardboard cutouts aren’t.

          2. Reflexive resistance to change is no virtue.

            1. Sure it is. Most change is bad.

              1. You know, a baby with a messy diaper feels the same way — she screams and screams while she’s being changed. But feels so much better afterward.

                1. Even you have to admit that that is a shitty analogy. pun intended.

                  Bob is a Burkean conservative. Until you know why a fence is in the middle of a field, you leave it in place.

                  1. Burke was manifestly not a reactionary, m_k.

                    1. Yes, exactly, he was open to modest changes…in either direction. Modest changes back to an earlier way of doing things doesn’t make one a reactionary, unless, say, we are talking about wholesale systematic changes.

                      Why must the changes conservatives advocate for be leftward, eh? The left has removed a fence or two, problems and unintended consequences occurred; putting a fence or two back is not reactionary.

                    2. Bob is saying he’s a proud reactionary. Maybe don’t compare him to Burke.

                    3. And I’m saying your definition of reactionary is framed by what you think is good change vs. bad change and this idea that just because most change in the past half century has been leftward, that all change must be in that direction.

                    4. No, m_k, it’s not.

                      I don’t think changes in the conservative direction are a priori bad. As noted above, *conserving* the environment used to have conservative appeal. Rolling back qualified immunity, ending the war on drugs, all examples of me thinking before I reflexively react.

                      You, on the other hand, have said in the past that you think all changes to the left are a priori bad.

                  2. Right: Reflexes are good, they allow you to cope until you’ve had time to override them in a considered way.

                    1. Reflexes are good if you have a split second.

                      Using our cognitive skills are generally favored if you have more time than that. On accounta that’s what makes us human.

          3. How about the idea that it’s possible to have competing virtues. Justice vs. Mercy as the classic example everyone?

      2. Imaging boasting about being ignorant.

  14. Weird. No mention that all environmental policies proposed just happen to contain no free market principles anymore.

    Remember the Washingon State plan that reduced other taxes to enact a carbon tax? Rejected by Democrats.

    Perhaps that is a phenomenon worth explaining.

  15. There’s no such thing as “buyer’s remorse”? Or “unanticipated consequences”?

    Neither Nixon nor the Congressional Democrats who voted for the EPA would have expected the EPA to become the burdensome behemoth it is today.

    It is far outside of it’s regulatory authority, utilizes extra-constitutional remedies, and conspires with political actors to enact otherwise illegal regulations.

    The real question is why would any sane Democrat support the EPA?

    1. Because a good deal of their “business plan” is causing problems, and then selling solutions. If the government isn’t in somebody’s face, they won’t pay to get it out of their face.

  16. “Running for President in 2016, called the EPA a “disgrace,” and a Republican member of Congress introduced legislation to eliminate the agency altogether.”

    Who, running for president in 2016, called the EPA a disgrace?

  17. Since the creation of the EPA, not only have real scientists debunked most of the top environmental scares, but also the Clean Air and Clean Water acts have changed the facts enough that further moves toward more regulation, such as yet-higher gas mileage requirements, are no longer worth their costs.

    Meanwhile the environmental movement has moved so far to the left that some of the founders of the Sierra Club and even Greenpeace have resigned rather than go along. The real agenda of the movement is now to destroy rich civilization — and the laws which set up the EPA and its counterparts in other countries make sure the agency stays as extreme as the movement.

    So the EPA has become a threat to the country and needs to go away.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.