Climate Change: A Partisan Issue?
On today show on joined by Ryan and Williams and Rebecca Liba Ryan Williams is executive vice president targeted victory involves Mitt. Romney's two thousand twelve campaign spokesman. He joins us from Cape Cod road. And Rebecca Liba is a climate politics and science reporter for Mother Jones. She joins us from Washington. DC Ryan want to start by framing framing climate change as a policy position within the context of the current presidential election. And obviously I think it's fair to say that this like everything else. In American politics politics are everything else in American life is going to be seen as a partisan issue doesn't strike you that there is a serious policy difference between Democrats it's and Republicans or is this just a case of the Republican seeing the Democrats saw for this therefore we must be against it. I think there's a significant policy difference. Prince obviously president trump has mocked the green new deal which is the cornerstone of the Democrats Climate Change Agenda. It was put out by some of the more liberal politicians in the party party but it's become essentially a mainstream position amongst Democratic primary voters to support this and I think you're gonNA see every Democratic presidential candidate to some degree have to support report this or else risk alienating liberal voters who make up a significant portion of their primary electorate with Republicans trump is marcus repeatedly. He's mocked the concept of climate change. And I don't think his position is essentially where a number of Republicans are I think. Republicans are beginning to move a bit on acknowledging knowledge in the climate. Change is real for many years. Most Republicans running had said. The science is disputed. I think we're getting beyond that. Debate to some extent with mainstream Republicans publican's trump not being one of them. And I think now the question is how to solve it. The Democrats are taking it pretty dramatic and far left approach with the green new deal. I think some some Republicans you're GONNA see propose more moderate solutions. You've seen Lamar. Alexander Retiring Senator from Tennessee. Come out with a plan recently. That relies on investments and technology nuclear nuclear power. So I think that's kind of an overview basically of of how the debate is shaping up now with the two parties Rebecca if that is the case that there is a gathering consensus consensus among as Ryan says mainstream Republicans that there's not much dispute about the science that climate change is a thing have the proponents of the green renew deal possibly made a mistake in the packaging because obviously there's a couple of screaming red flags that to a lot of even moderate Republican Publican. Voters agree that the Republican base doesn't necessarily reflect what the president is saying on climate change. Denial polls consistently show Oh that acceptance of climate change science and belief that it's getting worse is the majority of voters while the president's still regularly. He calls this something like a hoax. But I think what the green new deal conversation has really done. Here is broaden out. The conversation on climate change for so long talk about climate solutions was really relegated to an environmental policy into this niche topic in debate and you saw that reflected in in the primary debates in past election cycles where there was no climate change debate that even came up because it felt like this bottom tier issue for voters what the green new deal has done is brought in that out and connect climate change to other policies like economic justice distace like social injustice like healthcare and. I think it's too early to tell if this is a tactical mistake but I think you've seen the results. It's just a few months. How climate change has really soared in the Democratic Party and it's consistently now ranked as a top tier issue and God for the first time fifteen? Eighteen minutes of debate in the first two presidential debates. Royan is there a way that you can run and win on this even if you do need to win. Lean over conservative voters as Rebecca pointed out there. There has been a tendency certainly among some parts of the Democratic Party and the left elsewhere to tie climate a change into things like economic justice and social justice traditional I guess Social Democrat left wing positions. Is that a mistake. Dyke from the democratic. Party's point of view. Do you think would it make more sense for them to run on actually the economic benefits of attempting to reinvent environmental environmental policy. All of which it can be plausibly argued that there are many well. I agree with Rebecca that this new deal certainly has raised the issue of climate change to a degree that it has is not been in recent years. It's being discussed now both parties with democratic debates. And of course president trump tweets about it frequently. I don't know if social justice and other liberal concerns are the best way to build consensus amongst the broader swath of voters. It certainly something that they're going to have to discuss right now. The Democratic candidates because they're trying to win over Democratic or credit base voters to secure the nomination so it makes political sense to focus on those issues right now in a general election. I really do think the economy's the biggest issue and the main attack on the green deal. He'll anybody who signs on the green new deal is that this is a job killing economy. Busting Bill because of its price tag because of the restrictions that puts on businesses and free enterprise and I think Democrats if they signed onto the new deal which most I think will are GonNa have to counter that with an economic message so I think in general election. They need to beep prepared if they're gonNA support this to counter the narrative that this is GonNa kill jobs. They're going to have to deal with that when they get to the general election whoever the Democratic nominee is Rebecca. Do you think there is oh has been just a brutally if you like economic case for combating climate change that you can actually make prophets From renewable energies. And is it arguable. That the Democrats and broadly left wing parties elsewhere in the world have been a bit shy about making the argument. I can remember myself talking to people. Involved in Green Energy in Abu Dhabi in one of the reasons they were excited about it was not just because of the environmental benefits because they thought the United Arab Emirates wearing a fantastic position to make immense amounts of money from it for so long. Climate Change has been framed in the US Set lease as a conversation around the costs of action and what it would cost to transition the economy from fossil fuels to renewables. And I think what's changed. Actually for especially in the Democratic Party is talking about this more as an economic opportunity and not just framing this as what are the costs in. How do we pay for it? But what are the costs of inaction first of all which is a conversation that we don't often focus and I think press should definitely always work into stories about talking about paying for climate change but I also think the green new deal what what that has done is give Democrats vision for in economic opportunity here. An investment in things like infrastructure in jobs. And that does I think give voters and economic message. Here that isn't just about. We need to fight climate change because of the moral reasons but because there there are economic reasons that are affecting you in your lifetime that this kind of investment could help you right now and. That's that's the message that I think. Green new deal. Proponents are trying to make. This election is a good test for how well they will make that message. Roy and do you think there are actual political opportunities for Republicans and other conservatives in approaching climate change if for example a Republican not necessarily presidential nominee but any republican running running for office next year was to decide to make this thing and get out in front of it. Could they reach their anyway. They could take Republican voters with them. All would a plurality of that Republican base just think that candidate X. had completely lost their mind gone over the wall and might as well be working for the other team. No I think there is an opportunity especially for some blue state. Republican senators are up for reelection in two thousand sixteen. I'm thinking of People Cory Gardner senator from Colorado who faces the very challenging reelection campaign. Proposing a common sense. Bipartisan solution. To address climate change. I think could give political benefits to a Republican running blue-state sensible moderate and have the ability to bring in swing voters and potentially some Democrats as well into their coalition. I do think though to achieve that. We're going to have to put forward a plan. Somewhat in line with what Senator Alexander has talked about which is basically a plan that doesn't have government overreach doesn't have the government dictating how things are going to happen. Happen to combat climate change but rather sparking the investment and technology that would be required to address it and then relying on something that Democrats have to some degree of opposed over the years which is nuclear power. Nuclear Power does not produce carbon in the air. It's something that Republicans have supported for years. And it's something. I think that a Republican publican could use as part of a broader solution to the topic. That would not alienate conservative voters. Just as a final thought on this rebecca when Democratic candidates have talked talked about the green new deal and when they've talked about climate change in general they have made frequently an appeal to some sense of national unity. The idea that this needs to be a collective effort something that the entire nation needed to get behind do together. Does it strike you especially in these polarized type of partisan sometimes that that kind of national cohesion is still a viable option. The American people are far. Less polarized on the subject of climate change than the political elites are and there are a few areas where the political elites Congress had some areas of consensus. They're very small alike. Nuclear Power has found some bipartisan consensus carbon capture and certain technological investments. The major challenge in election in is bringing this kind of message to a popular base. And I think this is truly a climate change election. The first time that climate change is front and center her and it will be a huge test for the green new deal going forward. Rebecca Lieb and Ryan Williams. Thank you both very much for joining