Welcome to this weeks edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag where Bob Cesca, Chez Pazienza and Ben Cohen answer questions from our readers! Today, we discuss the reasons behind the Right’s denial of climate change, whether the Democrats would ever recover from a Republican victory this year, and how Mitt Romney gets away with pretending to be insane in order to appease the Republican base.
Generally speaking, why is the right wing so obtuse on the environment? They deny climate change, discredit sustainable energy technology (the next industrial revolution) while promoting archaic and dirty energy technology (the ill effects too numerous to list), insist that pristine areas be submitted to oil production- hardly a true conservative(by definition) position, and want to annihilate the EPA. This is to name only a few features of their bizarre, self-destructive stance. Why has the environment become an enemy of the right? They need it as much as…well, everyone. – Drew
Chez: Bob and I kind of touched on this sort of thing this week on the podcast. I’m not sure conservatives full-on hate the environment so much as they simply stand stridently against anything the left supports on principle. That’s why things are so galactically fucked-up right now. Yeah, there are outlying idiots like James Inhofe who genuinely believe that the magical Christian overseer they grovel before wouldn’t dare let us destroy ourselves — and I probably don’t even need to mention that there’s nothing funnier/sadder than somebody as dumb as Inhofe actually casting himself as an expert on the environment, in contrast to all those scientists and their fancy book learnin’ — but for the most part it’s a lot simpler than that. Democrats support responsible protective legislation for the environment because they’re a bunch of tree-huggers, so conservatives naturally have to stand against it. It also doesn’t hurt that the GOP has traditionally been in the pocket of those who don’t give a crap about the good of the planet and who seek only to satisfy their greed. These people hate environmental regulation because it interferes with business, supposedly — and we all know how “pro-business” the Republicans are.
Bob: There are two reasons for this. One is somewhat understandable and the other is totally ridiculous. Firstly, conservatives have traditionally believed in very little if any government regulation and consider such power to be an enemy of freedom. For all of its obvious flaws, government — We The People — has a responsibility to protect the Commons. In other words, there are commonly owned elements in the world which we’re all entitled to enjoy: air, water, land. The government’s role is to make sure several wealthy corporate oligarchs don’t destroy those resources for the rest of us. As individuals, we’re powerless to regulate industry. But united in the form of a regulatory body — the government — we have the ability to protect our interests. Additionally, it’s in the best interest of business to protect the Commons as well because if industry makes the planet unsafe for human existence, then freedom from government regulation becomes totally irrelevant. That said, Modern Conservatism isn’t so principled. Too many Modern Conservatives are anti-environment simply because it pisses off liberals. So scam artists and bastards like Glenn Beck tell their audiences to burn tires, to leave their cars idling and to cut down trees on Earth Day. Not because it helps anything. They do it because it pisses off the rest of us. On one hand, this is very effective for the far-right because it’s easy and stupid and plays to the lowest common denominator. On the other hand, it’s a politically untenable position mainly because there aren’t any core values informing it and therefore the approach is thin and temporary.
The reason why the Right refuses to accept the legitimacy of global warming and pollution is simple – it undermines their philosophy that capitalism and the free market work in everyone’s best interest. Global warming happens because we are burning too much fossil fuel and releasing an inordinate amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. We burn fossil fuels because virtually every transport system and automobile company on earth build their machines to run on it. It is literally a multi-trillion dollar industry, and the idea that the entire premise is catastrophic to the environment means a lot of that money is at stake. We need to understand that the Republican party is not a political party – it is a business party, and their role is to maximize the profit for their big business contributors. The concept of global warming runs contrary to the interests of big business (at least in the short term), so therefore it runs contrary to the interests of the Republican party. Hence they advocate ignoring science and urging Americans to vote against environmental legislation.
I read Ben Cohen’s piece on how Obama can beat Romney despite the economy with interest. I can’t get my head around the fact that the Republicans can screw up the economy, stop the Democrats from fixing it, then get elected. when the Dems lost Congress in 2010, I felt like moving to Canada. It blows my mind that we can be that stupid. I’m not sure what I’ll do it Romney wins. Is everything lost if he beats Obama? How do the dems come back from that? – Ben James
I wouldn’t feel too bad Ben – I’m from the UK, and we pretty much did the same thing in 2010 with the Conservative Party. It’s true that New Labour wrecked the economy, but they did it using Conservative economics. We then voted in a party that promised to enact an even more extreme version of the same economic platform and somehow expected different results. I’m always amazed at how political parties manage to convince people to vote completely out of their own interest. The Republicans are probably the best in the world at this as their platform is so blatantly ridiculous it defies logic that anyone other than multi millionaires would want them in government. Getting to your question – is everything lost if Romney gets in? No. It won’t be pretty, and I genuinely believe Romney
if he gets in, but real change rarely comes from above. The President certainly has a lot of power to effect events, but they must always respond to pressure from the population. It’s always good to pay attention to the shenanigans in Washington, but there are lots of interesting movements happening around the country (like OWS) that could potentially have a far bigger effect on the direction of the country.
Bob: I don’t think everything is lost, but we’ll be in terrible shape if Romney wins this November. Not only will the country and the world hang on the brink of more war and more conservative deregulatory economic turmoil, but, as you wrote, it will be yet another victory for ignorance over reason. A Romney victory will signify a victory for cynicism and propaganda over actual results and actual successes. The numbers don’t lie. But the Republicans do. Everyone from Romney to John Boehner to the entire right-wing media apparatus has been lying about the economy from day one. While it’s difficult to overcome this kind of coordinated intellectual violence, it’s not impossible. The Obama campaign has considerable financial resources at its disposal and won’t hesitate to destroy the Romney campaign in every way imaginable. Rest easy for now and let’s regroup in a month or so.
Chez: Romney can win because people are stupid and gullible and because they’re astonishingly adept at staying on message and controlling the narrative. And the narrative they paint isn’t, of course, that they’re holding the country hostage in an attempt to fuck things up so badly that they can get themselves ushered back into power; it’s that things are getting worse under Obama and that’s really all you need to know so, hey, vote Republican. Why are they able to get away with this? Simple. Because the mainstream political press refuses to call them out on it for fear of being tagged as biased and liberal — because conservatives have been really, really good of putting that fear of God into the media for the past few decades. Trust me, you’re not the only one who looks at the unmitigated shit that goes on and wonders how exactly they’re able to get away with it; it’s one of the reasons that I honestly tune out politics every once in a while — just go completely dark. You’d think that people would at least be smart enough to see when they’re being lied to and when the country’s being bent over simply to score political points — and there are in fact some people out there who get what’s happening — but more often than not, vast numbers of people can be swayed by some slick talk and a lot of horseshit rhetoric. And in case you haven’t noticed, that’s all the Republicans — certainly an empty suit like Romney — have.
Now it’s clear Romney is the nominee how does he erase all the crazy Right wing stuff he’s been saying for the past 6 months? He’s left an extensive track record of inflammatory statements that will alienate the center and make women run for the hills. Has he not heard of youtube? Jeff
Bob: Americans have a notoriously short attention span, and as much if not more cynicism than Romney (which is hard to believe). Voters expect people like Romney to reverse their positions, so it really doesn’t matter to Romney because he’s fully aware of and ready to exploit our negative views of politics. It’s really a dastardly campaign strategy, but it’s the core of what Romney is doing — and will continue to do.
Ben: Hi Jeff, if the Obama campaign team are smart (and they are) they are going to use social media to smash Romney for his pandering to the Right. Sadly, Romney is such a phoney, he won’t care or really bother to respond to the allegations of complete dishonesty. If he does, he’ll just lie again even more making him look even more of an idiot. I think Romney is betting that the state of the economy and his ability to just keep showing up will propel him into the White House. It worked during the primaries, and it may work again in the general. It’s not exactly inspiring, but in modern politics, its a propaganda campaign and a numbers game – all of which Romney can do.
See above [the answer to the previous reader’s email]. Romney and the Republicans live by the old maxim about whether you’re willing to believe them or your lying eyes. Yes, the internet has made it a lot harder to escape your past, and I do believe that some of the shameless pandering Romney’s done over the past several months — to say nothing of his now-inconvenient positions from years ago — will be tough to duck. “The Daily Show” is an example of an outlet that’s become wonderfully skilled at hanging people, usually hypocritical Republicans, with their own words — and that’s because so much material is out there for all to crib from. Romney and his handlers will simply try to spin away anything untoward from his past that they feel might hurt him in the general election — one of those handlers flat-out admitted as much with the infamous Etch-a-Sketch comment — but it remains to be seen just how much damage it will all do. Romney has always been his own worst enemy and he’s admittedly given his political enemies so much campaign ad material to work with that the commercials this season are sure to be a hoot.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.