If we've learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it's common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.Who was the speaker? This same proud conservative also took credit for his fundamentally conservative viewpoint that the economy does not utterly trump the environment:
I'm proud of having been one of the first to recognize that States and the Federal Government have a duty to protect our natural resources from the damaging effects of pollution that can accompany industrial development.
Such a viewpoint was not remotely controversial at the time. One suspects that if President Obama or most any other leader were to speak these exact words today the resulting partisan firestorm of criticism would be intense and vitriolic. Recent polling suggests that a slim majority of Americans are now willing to throw the environment under the economic bus. The anemia of the current "recovery" is doubtless responsible for much of this sentiment, but the lack of unequivocal support for environmental protection by our leaders is also to blame.
Also culpable are the gasbags on cable working overtime to foment outrage and partisan bile. More sensible conservatives, truer to their values, are highlighting former President Ronald Reagan and his straightforward words on the conservative nature of environmental stewardship:
Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP), a national grassroots organization, announces the launch of its "What Would Reagan Do" radio ad campaign. The campaign started running in New Hampshire today - with other states to follow in the coming weeks.
The ads, which include clips from Ronald Reagan's speeches, honor the former president's memory as a conservationist and remind listeners that good environmental stewardship, including action to address climate change, is consistent with true conservative values.
"With talk radio personalities constantly peddling an anti-stewardship message under the guise of conservatism, it is a good time for a reminder about President Reagan's legacy as a good steward of our environment," David Jenkins, REP's vice president for government and political affairs, said.
"We especially want people to remember Reagan's leadership in negotiating the Montreal Protocol treaty, which began the phase-out of ozone depleting chemicals and has done more to safeguard the earth's atmosphere than any other law or treaty ever passed," Jim DiPeso, REP's vice president for policy and communication, said.
The REP's campaign web site also include an eminently reasonable page entitled "How to be a Climate Conservative". There are a few gratuitous asides (e.g. about Al Gore's supposed claim of inventing the internet) but this list should be sent to every dittohead, stupid Becker and parroting teabagger:
- Acknowledge Our Stewardship Responsibly
- Honestly Examine the Science
- Think for Yourself
- Don't Let Al Gore Get in the Way
- Consider All of the Reasons to Act
- Support Meaningful Solutions
What is a conservative after all but one who conserves, one who is committed to protecting and holding close the things by which we live... And we want to protect and conserve the land on which we live -- our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests. This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.Conservation is conservative. Many Republicans who were thought conservative in their day have advanced a conservation agenda. Teddy Roosevelt established the National Park System. Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Reagan pushed for the Montreal Protocol to prevent ozone depletion.
What happened to modern American conservatives that has caused them to abandon these conservative values?