why does environmentalism…

“belong” to the liberal left?

i consider myself an independent, which mostly means i’m disgusted with both sides of the American political equation (we’ll save the vitriolic ranting against a two-party system for another day).

i recycle. i drive a car that gets almost 40 mpg. i ride a bike or walk in lieu of driving whenever possible. but when a political discussion comes up, and i mention i voted for the wrinkly white (Republican) guy, people are horrified. “How could you do that?” “I thought you were one of us!”

now, most of my friends are liberals of one sort or another; some claim to be libertarians, but i think that many of them have their definitions confused. but for the most part, left-wing (or at least left-leaning) liberals.

there is nothing wrong with this – everybody has to be something. and this country (like it or not) has always been at the forefront of social liberty. which is a big part of the left; we’ll ignore the big government safety net stuff for the purposes of this post. the conservative right is, to my mind, a rather recent development in a lot of ways – however much they might wish to claim the Founding Fathers as their own.

but my friends who are environmentally aware naturally assume that anyone else who is is also a liberal. this is no real surprise, as the left is the only side that has embraced environmentalism wholeheartedly (or at all).

why is it the conservative side of the nation will not do the same? is it the fruit and nut image that “green” calls up?

for convenience’s sake, i’m going to lump Neocons, Paleocons, Anti-Federalists, etc., all into the same “conservative” lump. while they all have very differing views on things like interventionsim and protectionism, they have similar views on economics (classical liberal Laissez-faire, for the most part). and environmentalism is just good business. it’s what a larger and larger number of consumers want to buy, after all. and it doesn’t hurt with the rest of them.

you know all those right-wing hunters, who always vote the Republican party line? many of them are environmentalists. they’d never admit it – there’s too much stigma attached to the term – but they (for the most part) want to protect the world’s wild places. many of them even realize this starts at home; they recycle, turn off lights when they leave rooms, all the little things that get lumped into “environmental responsibility.” and they’re not liberals.

Theodore Roosevelt, man’s man, hunter, champion of business (look up “regulated trust”); he was an environmentalist. and he was a champion of the values the right claims to espouse: equality of opportunity and personal freedom.

“When I say I want a square deal for the poor man, I do not mean that I want a square deal for the man who remains poor because he has not got the energy to work for himself. If a man who has had a chance will not make good, then he has got to quit…” – T.R.

sounds a lot like what the political right (especially as embodied by the talking heads in the media) claims to espouse. so why won’t they embrace environmentalism?

is it because they are blinded by other issues? too focused on opposing the Democratic left’s government-growth policies? News Flash: y’all did a crappy job with this when you were in power, too. some could say worse. so you should probably STFU about how Obama’s policies are going to grow the deficit. one trillion dollars spent on the “War on Terror” since 2001, over one third of which was in Iraq, kind of makes for massive feet of clay.

one benefit the “left” has over the “right” seems to be an avoidance of this type of myopia. but that’s neither here nor there.

or is it? let’s assume, for a moment, that neither side of the political divide is one hundred percent correct (crazy, i know). therefore, the best course for the nation lies somewhere in the middle. but neither side will look to the middle; they have far too much invested in being the “good guys,” with the other side being the “bad guys.” but what if they would? there needs to be some way to bridge the gap, right?

quote of the day:

“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.” – Hannah Arendt


One Response to “why does environmentalism…”

  1. John Butler Says:

    I do all those things too—turn off lights, ride my bike when I can, pick up trash. I don’t tart it up as a “cause” or an “ism” though. I do it out of a combination of self-interest and normal civilized cleanliness.

    I’m all for reducing our dependency on foreign petroleum by reducing dependency on all petroleum in general, and pollution is real, but man-made global warming is not.

    Republicans are fine with fuel efficiency and a clean environment. We just don’t think that anyone needs to throw government money at it, or concoct bullshit to levy new taxes around like manmade global warming. Nor should we throw government money AGAINST it, like we did with GM and Chrysler for the sole purpose of preserving the jobs of the overpaid labor union DNC donors.

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