Monday, March 7, 2016

Time for Trump to Embrace Climate Action

I've been watching the Republican primary debates, mostly because my wife enjoys hate-watching them in the Jon Stewart eating popcorn sense.

Here's what I don't get: Why is Donald Trump, who embraces radical thinking on Social Security and trade deals, embracing the same old climate denial? Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are hardcore climate science deniers. Trump himself is softening his previous climate science denial but mostly ignoring the issue.

We all know Trump has only a binary policy world view, where the two options are:
  1. WE'RE GONNA DO IT BIGGEST AND BEST AND AMERICA'S GONNA WIN AGAIN (border wall, torturing harder, banning Muslims)
  2. THESE CAREER POLITICIANS ARE TOTALLY WRONG ABOUT HOW AMERICANS ARE GETTING SCREWED (opposing trade deals, opposing cuts to Social Security & Medicare)
Trump's current climate science sorta-denial doesn't fit either of these frames. He attacks climate action, but in a way that makes him totally vulnerable to getting called a loser:
All Hillary Clinton has to say is, "China led the world in solar AND wind capacity added in 2014. It's happening. They're beating us. And my opponent's answer is 'let them keep winning?' SOFT."

That's why Trump should embrace climate action: It fits both sides of his policy world view. I'm gonna do the best, toughest climate deals and we're gonna win 'em AND I'm gonna do the biggest, most amazing clean energy and finally stop screwing Americans like these career politicians of both parties (beholden to energy donors in a way Trump is not) have been doing.

But isn't climate science denial embedded in conservative culture? Republican denial is like support for cutting Social Security and Medicare - near-universal among party leadership but surprisingly divisive among the rank & file. In fact, 56% of Republicans support cutting climate-disrupting carbon pollution and 64% support tax rebates for clean energy.

Think about how a pro-clean energy Trump would play in Republican debates. Trump's current denial just makes him agree with Cruz and Rubio. No daylight between them. Bad!

But imagine a Trump who said: "Look, climate deals are gonna happen, whether I like it or not. They're gonna happen! IT'S MY TURN TO TALK NOW LYIN' TED. We have to get a piece of the action and I'm the guy to do it because I do the BEST DEALS. I'm gonna make China do all the work to stop climate change, and I'm gonna make them buy our solar panels, our windmills, and our electric cars. And the American factories are gonna be opening up so fast, Mexico is going to be BEGGING ME to let their people through my yuuuge border wall so they can come work here. And you know what I'm gonna tell 'em? NO YOU CANNOT THESE ARE AMERICAN JOBS BACK UP WHO SAID YOU COULD TOUCH THE WALL."

Nah, he'll just stick with the same old denial, if climate change is ever mentioned at all in this campaign. Both Republicans and reporters have completely ignored it so far and I'm happy for Republicans to stay deeply in denial until the Democratic nominee uses climate action as a winning political issue in the fall.

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