Home Energy and Environment Audio: David Roberts of Vox Demolishes the Post-Partisan Fallacy

Audio: David Roberts of Vox Demolishes the Post-Partisan Fallacy


Great stuff from David Roberts of Grist on the “post-partisan fallacy” and the hard-core nature of the right wing in this country. First, though, some positive thoughts from Roberts about clean energy.

*”It’s going to be the growth of cleantech that ultimately forces the climate policy question, and I sort of think we’re seeing the early stages of that happening…clean energy getting so cheap that it’s starting to shift the politics, mainly at the state level.”

Roberts then talks about political polarization in the U.S., which he says “a lot of people still  have not really, fully come to grips with.”

*In Roberts’ view, political polarization is not just a “Washington DC phenomenon” or just about “too much money in politics” and that there’s “still this mass of sort-of moderate, centrist people out in the country who aren’t having their needs met, and I just think that’s wrong…the polarization in the capital reflects polarization in the country.”

*”At this point, the U.S. conservative movement has become an identity movement, and part of that identity is opposing anything that Democrats support that might indicate the need for more government programs..more taxing or spending or regulating.”

*The “endless quest for the bipartisan or trans-partisan or post-partisan climate message that’s going to unite everyone behind sensible policy is, I think, fruitless, has been fruitless, and was always fruitless…”

*What’s the alternative strategy other than coming together and joining hands?” “The other stratey is to beat the other side; if you can’t win them over, you beat them. You know, this is something you don’t have to explain to any Republican, but for some reason on the left, Democrats, the whole idea of winning as opposed to sort-of transcending partisan battles is still a little…alien to them.”

*There are “areas where this wall of Republican opposition has cracks in it,” and it’s usually in “cities and states,” while the fedeeral situation is “just frozen right now.” Roberts recommemnds concentrating on those cracks, be “opportunistic and ruthless” in wedging them open wider, gaining momentum from those victories until Republicans are overwhelmed, “scared” so much (“you’re not going to persuade them”) that they’ll finally come around on clean energy and climate policy.

*There should be an equivalent of the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign for rooftop solar that finds the cracks in the wall, swarms the local fights and spreads them to other conservative areas.

*According to Roberts, in theory there’s an intellectual basis to right and left positions, but “the actually existing left-right divide in the U.S. is a different thing;” “actually existing U.S. conservatism” doesn’t resemble in the least bit the “mythological conservatve” with “consistent intellectual views.” Instead, it’s a “completely tribal, identity-based movement.”

*For instance, if conservatives really followed their principles, they’d be “all over” removing regulatory barriers in all cases, but “what they care about is they like their kind of energy and they hate Democrats’ kind of energy and anything that’s going to help Democrats’ kind of energy they’re going to oppose — see, that’s not principled, that’s tribal.”

*”That argument between what’s the optimal policy…taxing, regulating, spending…that conversation is happening entirely within the left. There is no credible intellectual conversation about that happening on the right; the right has hardened into this sort-of reflexive, knee-jerk opposition to government as such, government doing anything, just the mention of government is bad and wrong…All the interesting intellectual discussions about climate policy…are all happening, practically speaking, within the left in the U.S…addressing this issue at all, having any discussion at all.”

*”You have to remember it’s all about priorities, and today’s Republican Party is centrally devoted to reducing taxes on the wealthy, that’s their raison d’etre, and everything else is subordinant to that,” so even if Republicans came around on the virtues of clean energy, how would that fit into their higher priority of cutting taxes on the wealthy, sharply reducing government spending, and reducing regulations.

*”The ideology of the modern-day U.S. right has gotten so hardened and knee-jerk that there’s no room left in it for credible policy on clean energy…in terms of the sort of massive movement we need, the massive industrial shift we need, you just aren’t going to be able to pull that off if you hate government taxing and government spending and government regulating; those are the three things government does.”

David Roberts nails it as he almost always does. Now, why can’t the Chris Cillizzas and other “mainstream” political analysts “get it” like Roberts does? Or are they contractually obligated to regurgitating conventional wisdom and other assorted pablum?


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