Liberals often claim the environment as an issue that gives them leverage over conservatives, but Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Mike VanBuren says conservatism should equally embrace environmental protection as a fundamental part of its vision for America:
Liberals often claim the environment as an issue that gives them leverage over conservatives. But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Mike VanBuren says conservatism should equally embrace environmental protection as a fundamental part of its vision for America.
Rush Limbaugh calls me an “environmental whacko.” I’m one of those people who believe in saving energy, preserving wild areas, and treating the earth as a finite resource that should be handled with care. I get alarmed when I hear about air pollution, food contamination, and oil drilling under the Great Lakes.
Rush seems to hate this. He likens me to a nazi extremist. He says I don’t understand the world’s bounty, or the simple principle of supply and demand. Worse yet, he’s convinced I’m one of those “whining liberals” who use environmental scare-tactics to push big government.
The funny thing is, when it comes to most social issues, I’m a fairly conservative guy. There are few so-called “liberal” ideas that I support. Yet, I often find myself walking hand-in-hand with left-leaning Democrats in battles to protect our natural heritage.
I wonder why that is. Shouldn’t Republicans join the fight? After all, there are few things more “conservative” than trying to conserve our resources for future generations.
I know there are some members of the so-called “political right wing” – whatever that is – who feel as I do. REP-America, for example, is a national grassroots organization that claims to be “the environmental conscience of the Grand Old Party.” Members believe we can preserve our environment – and boost our economy at the same time.
But many Republican leaders don’t seem to be listening. They want to scrap laws that have cleaned up air and water, preserved natural areas, and prevented the extinction of native species. What’s that all about?
Anybody with the smarts to get elected ought to be able to see that more – not less – needs to be done. While significant environmental progress has been made during the past few decades, we can still benefit from cleaner air, water, soil and food supplies. And reducing wasteful consumption today will bring greater benefits tomorrow, including greater economic performance?
You’d think more conservatives would be leading the way to safeguard these natural resources – rather than fighting against the liberals who are. If ever there was a bipartisan issue, this is it. Few modern social concerns are as vital to our health, recreation and economic prosperity.
Human progress should not be measured solely on the basis of dollars and development, but also on what we have preserved and protected.
Republican Theodore Roosevelt called conservation “a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring safety and continuance of the nation.”
Roosevelt, of course, may have been the first “environmental whacko” to be elected President of the United States. Maybe it’s time for another one – along with several others at all levels of government.
And there’s no good reason they couldn’t be conservatives.