They say no to everything: no to impeachment, immigration, voter registration, Merrick Garland, anything Obama tried to do, anything the liberals advocate. However, it’s increasingly hard to say no to climate change.
Their negativism is owing not just to mutual antagonism and the partisanship everyone complains of; it’s built in to the conservative mindset. What liberals understand as democracy and justice is implicitly rejected by conservatives as threat to their programme. Their constituencies are not just the fossil fuel complex but the major power groups in society, the interests that basically run things. For many conservatives, I think, it boils down to fears of a “socialist” takeover that will marginalize them forever.
Their tactics, if you can call them that, have included: increased lawlessness, voter suppression, total politicizing of judgeships, foreign policy fiascos, flagrant giveaways to the private sector, and rampant corruption.
Climate change, if it’s acknowledged at all, is a liberal plot, a hoax, an act of God, a natural series of events not due to human activity. Take your pick. In the face of that intransigence, the persistent liberal argument that the climate crisis is man-made is just futile, says David Roberts of Vox.
Those who fear change, prize order, and pine for an imagined past without all the troubling present-day changes—i.e., conservatives—will be more open to messages emphasizing the maintenance of purity and glories of the past.
. . . The tragic but inescapable fact at the core of climate change is that we are in an era of loss. The stable weather patterns, fertile soil, and biodiversity enjoyed by our ancestors—the biophysical status quo—is going away, whether we like it or not. It’s too late to save it.
Sooner or later, with more climate disasters, this notion of loss, one imagines, will have to penetrate to the conservative naysayers. Who can say how they will respond? Those so imbued with the power of No! and the status quo ante may never come to accept the ultimate change that is climate change. Eric Levitz put it in more strictly political terms:
To acknowledge anthropogenic climate change is to empower liberals, open the door to additional taxes and regulations, and threaten the power of the fossil fuel industry. The Republican Party as currently constituted will simply never do those things. Ever. The arguments are secondary.