At the moment, the American political system is not equipped to handle climate change. But both parties aren’t the same, and Democrats have (effectively) symbolic legislation to signal their support for a cap and trade regime. The orthodox position for the Republican Party, by contrast, is complete denial. As such, the new Mitt Romney is a denialist crank:
By the way, they do not call it America warming, they call it global warming. So the idea of America spending massive amounts, trillions of dollars to somehow stop global warming is not a great idea. It loses jobs for Americans and ultimately it won’t be successful, because industries that are energy intensive will just get up and go somewhere else. So it doesn’t make any sense at all.
My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.
None of this is new; Romney has been a climate denier since last year, and if he’s elected president, he’ll continue on that path. You can hope that he’ll recover his moderate instincts, but given the GOP’s institutional hostility to reducing greenhouse emissions, there’s almost no chance it will happen.
What’s noteworthy about Romney’s statement is the first full clause—“By the way, they do not call it America warming.”
It’s a brilliant statement. Yes, it doesn’t make any sense—the globe includes America, after all—but more than anything else, it sums up the mind-state of American conservatism in the early 21st century.
For all the talk of empowering communities and getting government out of the way, the Republican Party is utterly dismissive of social responsibility. If it’s not ‘America warming’ then Romney doesn’t care, and you shouldn’t either. Never mind that America produces a substantial amount of green houses gases, and that our inaction will lead to disaster in the developing world; if it doesn’t harm us directly, then it’s not our problem.
This trickles down from the international community and into our domestic social contract. Republicans want to unleash corporations and banks to do whatever they please. Will this destroy livelihoods and harm countless people? Probably. But that’s not their problem.
Likewise, Republicans want to gut the social safety net, and end the programs that provide an economic floor to millions of Americans. When pushed on this, conservatives might hand wave about charity and individual responsibility, but they rarely make efforts to encourage private giving. The attitude, more or less, is that—whatever your material circumstances—it’s not our problem, and it’s not worth our money.
At the moment, it’s not unusual to hear conservatives express contempt for student debt relief, or anything else that could help young people with student loans. Their rationale? You took out the loans, and it’s not our problem if you can’t pay them back.
Persistent joblessness and tenuous unemployment benefits? It’s not our problem that they couldn’t find a job. Access to contraceptives? Hey, you had sex and now you have to suffer the consequences. It’s not our problem if you couldn’t afford them in the first place.
This is only a slight exaggeration. If given the White House and Congress, Republicans plan to implement a budget that would drastically cut social services for the large majority of Americans, in order to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent. It’s hyper-individualism—all men are islands—codified as public policy. In essence, you could say that Republican ideology has moved beyond “I’ve got mine” to the complete abdication of community responsibility. “I don’t care and it’s not my problem.”