Vox Writer: ‘Conservative Elites’ Have ‘Misled’ Their Followers About Climate Change

Liberals have little chance of converting conservatives on climate change, but eventually righties will get swept to the left on the issue whether they like it or not, believes Vox’s David Roberts. In a Friday piece, Roberts maintained that “the weather is only getting worse, young people are only getting more engaged, and clean energy is only getting cheaper” and therefore “climate change and clean energy will be winning issues in the long term.” (Italics in original.)

Roberts noted one survey that found even though “conservative opinion on climate solutions could not be moved by scientific or religious messages…it could be nudged in a positive direction by messages that stressed ‘free market solutions.’” That phrase left Roberts shaking his head, perhaps literally:

First, the idea that free markets are a core value of today’s US conservatives should provoke only laughter. If Donald Trump’s campaign and victory taught us nothing else, it is that the conservative base’s fealty to open markets is paper thin...

And well before Trump, it was clear that “free markets” are, in political practice, a slogan, not a core value. The slogan is a weapon to be deployed against policies that favor [conservatives’] enemies, but never against their friends, just as deficits are used to scold Democrats who want to spend money but never Republicans who want to cut taxes…

Insofar as the Republican base has revealed core values, they seem to consist almost entirely in hostility to the Other -- liberals and Democrats above all, along with the minorities, immigrants, professors, and celebrities they represent.

Moreover, Roberts argued, “it’s not true that climate solutions necessarily involve violence to free market principles. A market in which some participants are allowed to degrade the planet for all future generations without cost is not ‘free’ by any sane definition of that term. If you piss all over my leg, I’m not abridging your freedom by asking you to pay for new pants.” (Italics in original.)

Roberts opined that on climate change, rank-and-file right-wingers merely parrot the talking points of the prominent (bolding added):

Conservatives think climate change is a communist plot because that’s what the right’s elites have told them…

The good news is that if conservative elite opinion swung around on climate change, conservative mass opinion would swing easily behind…

The bad news is that no one knows how to persuade conservative elites to stop lying to their tribe about climate change.

For one thing, fossil fuel companies play an enormous role in funding the party…

For another, conservative media elites profit the more they work their audiences into a frenzy of paranoia, fear, and loathing toward the left…

…What we have in the US is not a “difference of opinion” about climate change, it’s conservatives being mistaken about some very basic facts. They’re mistaken because they’ve been lied to and misled by leaders and influencers within their own tribe.


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Economy Environment Global Warming Conservatives & Republicans Vox