Going green is an idea too big for partisan sniping

By BOB AUGUST, REP’s Tennessee Coordinator

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: published in the The Tennessean on May 14, 2007.


What’s this? Newt Gingrich and John Kerry agreeing on the scientific validity of climate change and even supporting each other’s efforts to tame it? Mitt Romney coming out in favor of cleaner burning domestic fuel sources? John McCain pushing for greater use of nuclear energy for electricity? And Ah-nold, the governor with the most aggressive environmental agenda in the nation?

These Republicans are beginning to sound like Democrats!

Actually, both parties have a respectable, long-term record of environmental stewardship. It’s only in recent years that a few influential members of the GOP have hoisted political opportunism above conservation efforts. Sure, Republicans favor capitalist solutions while Democrats are more apt to endorse government regulation, but therein lies the spark that makes democracy and the free exchange of ideas so effective.

Big ideas have a history of being politicized into oblivion. When the Clintons were in the White House, their now infamous health-care plan suffered a great fall worthy of Humpty Dumpty — and no one bothered to put the pieces back together again or work out a compromise or alternative solution. The result? A decade wasted before anyone dared revisit the issue. More recently, President Bush proposed a fix to the “flawed” Social Security system by giving recipients the option to invest a portion of their money in mutual funds that traditionally earn double or triple the return currently disbursed by the government. Not surprisingly, a gaggle of termites came out of the woodwork and shot the plan to you-know-where. We’ll probably have an actual Social Security “crisis” before we hear that tune again.

Which is why the present scenario is so unlikely. Other than a few folks in the outer stratosphere of the GOP, such as Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who famously described the threat of catastrophic global warming as the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” citizens of all political stripes seem to recognize at least some degree of necessity for conservation and environmental awareness.

Heck, even Big Business has awoke to the long-term prospect of getting green (money) for going green. Witness a Tennessean article in April that highlighted efforts by Kroger, Wal-Mart and other grocery chains to make their stores more eco-friendly, structurally and otherwise. Is this just a fad? Is An Inconvenient Truth the new Atkins Diet — too inconvenient to be maintained?

Conservation should never be a fad. Not long ago, recycling was unheard of. These days, most people in most cities recycle. Not a fad so much as a habit.

Either way, it’s good to see Republicans back in the debate — no, not the one about whether Al Gore is really a closet energy glutton; the real debate, about how best to conserve, preserve and protect what we’ve been given. The one that matters.

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