In her painfully good new book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein sums up what she thinks it would take to address the threat of climate change: “In short, it means changing everything about the economy so that our pollution doesn’t change everything about our physical world.”
She argues, alarmingly, that conservatives understand this far more deeply than those on the left. Of course, conservatives not worried about the potential damage to the planet, which they could find some way to monetize. They’re worried about the damage to their worldview and — ultimately — their ability to hold power.
That is the only consequence that really matters to them — which is why they’re willing to risk government shutdowns and debt defaults and employ self-defeating tactics like voter suppression and killing immigration reform.
Climate change denial is fed by billionaires, who make billions off carbon-emitting industries, spending millions each year to fund a movement that spreads doubt about science and attacks anyone who takes Global Warming seriously as un-American. But the right also innately recognizes that any change — especially change as radical as what’s needed to address the climate crisis — is the enemy of conservativism.
A reasonable response to a completely avoidable disaster would be to radically reduce emissions by increasing taxes and regulations on polluters. It would require expanding the government’s role in decreasing the chances of disaster and preparing for impending crisis with massive investments in new technologies and public works while considering tactics that would reduce wasteful consumption and give people more time focus on sustainable lifestyles — like basic income.
Essentially, recognizing that we face a climate disaster would require us to completely chuck the right-wing belief system.
The right may pretend to care about the sanctity of marriage to keep their base engaged but their real agenda has been destroying the sanctity of our traditional climate.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the right implemented — and gotten many Democrats to go along with — a three-pronged agenda that they believe cannot fail and can only be failed: Lower taxes for corporations and the rich, fewer regulation, and privatization of everything government does. All these prongs have helped lead to the massive explosion in carbon pollution in the last 20 years.
When this agenda lead to the worst financial crisis since the last time we tried this agenda, Republicans lost one presidential election, badly. They didn’t mope. They decided to oppose the new president completely and use the sudden deregulation of campaign finance — the second biggest gift to them from the conservative majority on Supreme Court besides George W. Bush’s presidency — to win a massive landslide that allowed them to redistrict majorities in the House and state legislatures that will likely last until 2022.
When you have an agenda that’s disputed by facts and inherently unattractive to anyone but a majority that’s fading into minority status, you sense your future is always at stake.
When the deficit was high because of their policies, they recognized that was their best opportunity to gut Medicare. With Obamacare, they recognized that expanding Medicaid would be single biggest obstacle to getting rid of the law — since you don’t give someone something you’re planning to take away. And with this upcoming election, they know what really matters — the courts.
Major legislation will remain bottled up under any plausible outcome in November as President Barack Obama will still hold the veto pen and Republicans will still control the House. But the Senate is the exclusive guardian of the nomination process. And in a potential Republican-led Senate, probable Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) would have complete control over which of Obama’s nominations may come up for a confirmation vote.
“My guess is they put a stop to a host of nominations and try to use that process for hostage taking and leverage,” said Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Certainly it means the ability of Obama to get any judicial nominations through becomes about zero.”
A total of 155 nominations for the executive and judicial branches are pending on the Senate floor, and there’s nowhere near enough time to confirm them all before the next Congress is sworn in. There are 50 vacancies on district courts and 7 vacancies in appeals courts, and more will open up.
And what is the most consequential issue the courts will face in the next few years — besides the extremely consequential issues of voting rights, LGBT rights, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, and more?
Climate Change and the federal government’s ability to regulate against it.
Thanks to the Senate going nuclear, the D.C. Circuit of the federal courts that will face most of these challenges has been progressively filled up with Obama appointees. But the there are dozens of more courts to fill and we could always see an opening in the Supreme Court in the next two years.
Republicans know that we are one Supreme Court Justice away from either a progressive or conservative majority that could last a generation. And they never forget that the courts are on the ballot each election.
Many Democrats, however, aren’t even aware the Senate is at stake in this election. This is a problem Democratic strategists are only now starting to deal with, as The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent explains.
The kind of regulations Obama is proposing are a drop in the bucket compared to what Naomi Klein thinks needs to be done to competently face the crises we face. But Republicans understand that any progress towards recognizing this crisis is real is the beginning of the end for their consequence-free pollution of our atmosphere and politics.