In an apparent attempt to simulate the ten plagues, not only has the West Coast of the United States hosted multiple COVID-19 outbreaks and explosions of violence on the streets, they are now home to catastrophic wildfires which have consumed millions of acres in California, Oregon, and Washington. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom decried the raging wildfires as evidence that the general predictions of “scientists” regarding climate change are in full effect, and that “California, folks, is America fast-forward.”
CA Gov. Gavin Newsom: "California, folks, is America fast-forward." pic.twitter.com/Kkfts3Ar8p
— The Hill (@thehill) September 11, 2020
California Senator and Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris echoed Newsom’s conclusion, stating that the recent history of wildfires have been “fueled and intensified by the climate crisis,” and that “while Trump denies the evidence of this crisis,” Joe Biden will take action “on day 1.” Given the array of tasks Biden has promised to complete on his first day in office, “day 1” is going to be busy.
Over the past few years, CA has experienced some of the largest, most destructive wildfires in history—fueled & intensified by the climate crisis.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 12, 2020
The root of the problem here is that the issue of climate change has been largely abandoned by the political Right, leaving this important subject in the hands of the cynical and opportunistic Democrats. Evidence does indeed suggest that the climate is changing, and that human actions are a contributing factor. The area which requires careful and rigorous debate is the extent to which human actions are contributing to this change, and the realistic impact these changes are having and may have in the future.
By effectively avoiding this debate, Republicans have allowed Democrats to create a false binary. Either you accept that the world is on the brink of calamity for which the only solution is their political manifesto (which, strangely enough, delivers the policies the Left have desired for decades), or you are an example of the ignorant “science denier” the inherently intellectual Left pities and abhors.
By refusing to engage in this debate and counter this false binary, the Right have unintentionally allowed the Left’s premise to dominate the narrative regarding climate change. In isolation, this is extraordinarily dangerous because the Democrats will continue to use the “urgency” of the threat of climate change to justify their radical proposals without thought for their efficacy. However, this is not the only reason Republicans must return to this subject.
The Democrats follow a predictable pattern. When they are seeking power, they identify their political opponents — the American Right — as the cause of all that is wrong in the world. This results in the flawed assertion that removing the cause — in other words, voting for Democrats over Republicans — will remove the symptom. Violence? Vote Democrat. Poverty? Vote Democrat. Disease? Vote Democrat.
Conversely, when they hold power, they have become experts at redirecting blame for their failures. This strategy of “blaming up” involves broadening the focus until an appropriate target is found. For example, consider New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s unique failure to protect his constituents from COVID-19 by enacting policies which lead to the deaths of thousands of people. According to the Democrats, he is not to blame! It is the next highest Republican in the chain of command who is the true villain!
Sometimes, of course, no such Republican exists. When riots engulfed Ferguson in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting, was Barack Obama blamed for the violence in “Obama’s America?” With no person to blame above Obama, the Democrats relied on the next best thing — blame the system. A system for which the cure is, you guessed it, continued Democrat Party rule.
When we take this strategy into account, the motivations driving both Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris become clear. While climate change may be a factor in the wildfires, to claim that climate change is the sole or primary cause is an act of intentional ignorance. For example, some fires were suspected to have been started by arsonists, and at least one fire was sparked by a gender reveal party. Is climate change to blame for, to put it mildly, idiots?
Then there are local and state political decisions which contribute to this problem. For example, forest management policies have long been a subject of criticism regarding the prevalence of wildfires, with Democratic State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson stating, “We have been doing less and less to try to clear vegetation, to do controlled burns, so that we can reduce the dead vegetation that we have. As a result, we have conditions that are seeing fruition with these enormous and out of control fires.”
Objectively, there are multiple contributing factors driving the wildfires. Climate change may be one, and Gavin Newsom and his administration may be another. However, it will be impossible to hammer this point home if we refuse to enter this field of debate on the correct terms. Rather than engaging with the Democrats on their terms — where the two options are “climate change is real and will destroy us all” and “climate change is a hoax” — let’s engage with them on our terms — where the one option becomes “climate change is real, but not an excuse for Democrat failure.”
Not only will this aid our chances in combating climate change in a realistic manner if appropriate, but will show Gavin Newsom and his compatriots as the irresponsible failures that they are.
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