Republicans Behind the Scenes Struggle to Overcome Climate Denial

The National Journal has a feature story about the long-term political liability facing the Republicans as climate denial becomes increasingly untenable, and efforts within the party to move away from it.

deep fissures are emerging between, on one side, a base of ideological voters and lawmakers with strong ties to powerful tea-party groups and super PACs funded by the fossil-fuel industry who see climate change as a false threat concocted by liberals to justify greater government control; and on the other side, a quiet group of moderates, younger voters, and leading conservative intellectuals who fear that if Republicans continue to dismiss or deny climate change, the party will become irrelevant.

A concerted push has begun within the party—in conservative think tanks and grassroots groups, and even in backroom, off-the-record conversations on Capitol Hill—to persuade Republicans to acknowledge and address climate change in their own terms. The effort will surely add heat to the deep internal conflict in the years ahead.

Former South Carolina Congressman Bon Inglis was notoriously defeated for re-election largely due to his moderate stance on climate. He is quoted in the article.

Inglis would pay dearly for his support of the so-called carbon-tax swap. The following year, he lost his primary election to a tea-party candidate, Trey Gowdy. And Inglis knows his position on the climate was the reason. “The most enduring heresy was saying, ‘Climate change is real and we should do something about it.’ That was seen as a statement against the tribal orthodoxy.”

“But,” he says, “these heresies and orthodoxies change so quickly. Back in 2010, I was voting for immigration reform; look how that’s changed. It’s going to be like that with climate change.”

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