What Republicans believe

The Daily Kos has an interesting post up, with results from a survey of 2,000 self-identified Republicans in the United States.

Many of the statistics are depressing. Only 42% of those surveyed are confident that Barack Obama was born in the US. 24% think he “wants the terrorists to win.” 53% think Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president. There is plenty more homophobia, anti-science sentiment, and so forth.

Unfortunately, there don’t seem to have been any questions about climate change, or the environment in general. The results certainly suggest that conspiracy theories play a significant role in US public opinion.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

57 thoughts on “What Republicans believe”

  1. It’s not surprising that conspiracy theories are a large part of popular opinion – since the most basic “conspiracy” theory, that being the one which says the government is an institution run by the few in the interests of the few, is simply true.

    What’s interesting is how few people latch onto leftist solutions to the lack of democracy and the emptiness of rhetoric. There are probably structural and intentional reasons for this.

  2. I sometimes think it would be perfect timing to encourage the newly empowered Republicans the chance to hold hearings on global warming. If they think it is a hoax, then it is really shocking that they are not moving forward to prove it. Refusing a showdown tells me they know they are riding the wave of denialism.

  3. They can find seemingly reputable people to show up at hearings and say that it is all terribly uncertain.

    MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen is a favourite.

    He is on the faculty at MIT, right? And he says climate change is no problem. Therefore, scientists are terribly divided about the matter.

  4. Lindzen takes great care not to put his most whacked statements into peer reviewed publication. His academic publications are fairly safe. Forcing him to swear before Congress would force the issue… and could end his career as a scientist.

    And there are so few denialist scientists, and those who will speak up could be so easily discredited, that fairly soon testimony would degrade into the SpongeBobian theatrics of Lord Monkton. Meanwhile there are real, humans horribly displaced and harmed… from Kivalina to Georgia droughts. Plus, the Corps of Engineers and the Pentagon are now fully behind AGW. Time for a shoot out, I say.

  5. I actually think it’s a mistake to spend too much effort debunking conspiracy theories, if it means you ignore the real grievances which make them appear as real answers.

  6. Oh where, oh where would the public get such a notion?

    The real message of that poll is that mass media is doing a terrific job of moving public opinion.

  7. So, 47% of Republicans think Obama is a better president than Palin will be?

    How is that depressing? That’s awesome.

  8. I suppose so. Lots of Democratic supporters are hoping she gets the nomination for the next presidential contest.

  9. Significant Other says the best thing that could happen for Obama is to have her run – either as a Republican or even better as an Independent, which will completely split asunder the R’s.

    I would agree except she strikes me having the potential to be a female Hitler, depending on how crazy inflation and unemployment become.

  10. The ‘Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA)’ is hardly the authority I would turn to for economic analysis.

  11. Down With the People
    Blame the childish, ignorant American public—not politicians—for our political and economic crisis.
    By Jacob Weisberg
    Updated Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, at 7:07 AM ET

    In trying to explain why our political paralysis seems to have gotten so much worse over the past year, analysts have rounded up a plausible collection of reasons including: President Obama’s tactical missteps, the obstinacy of congressional Republicans, rising partisanship in Washington, the blustering idiocracy of the cable-news stations, and the Senate filibuster, which has devolved into a super-majority threshold for any important legislation. These are all large factors, to be sure, but that list neglects what may be the biggest culprit in our current predicament: the childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence of the public at large.

    Anybody who says you can’t have it both ways clearly hasn’t been spending much time reading opinion polls lately. One year ago, 59 percent of the American public liked the stimulus plan, according to Gallup. A few months later, with the economy still deeply mired in recession, a majority of the same size said Obama was spending too much money on it. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind, of course, but opinion polls over the last year reflect something altogether more troubling: a country that simultaneously demands and rejects action on unemployment, deficits, health care, climate change, and a whole host of other major problems. Sixty percent of Americans want stricter regulations of financial institutions. But nearly the same proportion says we’re suffering from too much regulation on business. That kind of illogic—or, if you prefer, susceptibility to rhetorical manipulation—is what locks the status quo in place.

    At the root of this kind of self-contradiction is our historical, nationally characterological ambivalence about government. We want Washington and the states to fix all of our problems now. At the same time, we want government to shrink, spend less, and reduce our taxes. We dislike government in the abstract: According to CNN, 67 percent of people favor balancing the budget even when the country is in a recession or a war, which is madness. But we love government in the particular: Even larger majorities oppose the kind of spending cuts that would reduce projected deficits, let alone eliminate them. Nearly half the public wants to cancel the Obama stimulus, and a strong majority doesn’t want another round of it. But 80-plus percent of people want to extend unemployment benefits and to spend more money on roads and bridges. There’s another term for that stuff: more stimulus spending.

  12. Talk about a high-risk situation!

    Palin almost certainly cannot win. But if she does, it would be frightening.

  13. Seriously. Wouldn’t it be freaky if Palin was nominated and did win?!

  14. Also interesting: “When Republicans have been in the majority, the filibustering minority has actually represented the majority of Americans 64 percent of the time. When Democrats have been in the majority, that figure plummets to 3 percent. So the charge that it is somehow hypocritical for Democrats to decry Republican filibusters as affronts to majority rule—if they also stand by their past decisions to filibuster the Republicans—is easily answered. When Democrats have filibustered Republicans in recent years, they have very often represented more Americans than the Republican majority; the same is almost never true in reverse.

  15. That last post is good evidence for democracy being broken. If the parties really did represent the two sides of the american electorate, such a disparity would not exist.

  16. Interesting to see what is NOT happening:
    — No Republicans are labeling the massive snowmageddon DC weather as denialist proof of cooling. But they could,
    — The Republican 41 voting block is NOT calling for hearings on the AGW hoax. But they could.

    I sense some discomfort from the well informed Republicans… they know that the more they are cemented as AGW denialists, the harder it will be for them in the future. Especially in the long, hot summer months – times of fires, drought and heatwaves – this coming summer and the summer of 2012… which will be worse, and will be just before the elections.

    Time to set the dye in the fabric of the Republican flag.

  17. rpauli, this is especially true as the financial dynamics of climate change become recognized by mainstream institutions, which is already happening. The military costs, the insurance companies withdrawing from certain markets, the impacts on prices of food as ecosystems, both in the oceans and and agriculture, collapse…and the inevitable spike in energy prices as we move past peak oil, will all undermine the last gasps of denialism.

    Let the R’s identify with denialism and they will be cut off at the knees. Of course, many of the Dem’s are no better!

  18. Black Helicopters Over Nashville

    Never mind Sarah Palin and the tricornered hats. The tea-party movement is dominated by conspiracist kooks.
    By Jonathan Kay | Newsweek Web Exclusive
    Feb 9, 2010

    The tea-party movement has no leader. But it does have a face: William Temple of Brunswick, Ga. For months, the amiable middle-aged activist has been criss-crossing America, appearing at tea-party events dressed in his trademark three-cornered hat and Revolutionary garb. When journalists interview him (which is often—his outfit draws them in like a magnet), he presents himself as a human bridge between the founders’ era and our own. “We fought the British over a 3 percent tea tax. We might as well bring the British back,” he told NPR during a recent protest outside the Capitol.

    It’s a charming act, which makes the tea-party movement seem no more unnerving than the people who spend their weekends reenacting the Civil War. But the 18th-century getups mask something disturbing. After I spent the weekend at the Tea Party National Convention in Nashville, Tenn., it has become clear to me that the movement is dominated by people whose vision of the government is conspiratorial and dangerously detached from reality. It’s more John Birch than John Adams.

    Like all populists, tea partiers are suspicious of power and influence, and anyone who wields them. Their villain list includes the big banks; bailed-out corporations; James Cameron, whose Avatar is seen as a veiled denunciation of the U.S. military; Republican Party institutional figures they feel ignored by, such as chairman Michael Steele; colleges and universities (the more prestigious, the more evil); TheWashington Post; Anderson Cooper; and even FOX News pundits who have heaped scorn on the tea-party movement’s more militant oddballs, such as Bill O’Reilly.

  19. United States

    The party of No
    Barack Obama has revived the Republicans. But they show few signs of using their new influence constructively

    Jan 28th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

    “Other Republicans who might work with Democrats to produce better, more centrist bills include John McCain, Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi and Bob Bennett. On issues such as health, energy and immigration, surely they can find a patch of common ground?

    Not necessarily. No Republican wants to be the single vote that hands Mr Obama a reprieve. Indeed, to back any Democratic proposal is to court a primary challenge. Mr Bennett, whom the conservative citizens of Utah have been happily electing since 1992, is in danger of losing a primary this year to a more conservative challenger. His sins were to vote for the bank bail-out and co-sponsor a version of a health-reform bill. In Florida, Marco Rubio, a fiercely conservative 38-year-old backed by tea-partiers, is poised to upset the moderate Republican governor, Charlie Crist, in the race for a vacant Senate seat. Even John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, faces a primary challenge from a bull-necked anti-immigration zealot. With a furious electorate lashing out in every direction, moderate Republicans are loth to stick their heads above the parapet.

    The Republican Party’s strategists reckon that relentless opposition will pay electoral dividends. It is easy to caricature Democratic ideas and then take credit for stopping them. Also, when Republicans vote “no” in unison, every Democratic vote becomes crucial, and every Democratic senator can demand to be bribed. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, for example, voted for Obamacare only after being promised that other states would pay Nebraska’s extra Medicaid costs for ever. Such skulduggery repels voters. Forcing Mr Obama to bow to his party’s grubbiest elements makes him look sordid, and therefore helps Republicans.”

  20. “You had to wonder if Palin, who is nothing if not cunning, had sprung a trap. She knows all too well that the more the so-called elites lampoon her, the more she cements her cred with the third of the country that is her base. Her hand hieroglyphics may not have been speaking aids but bait.

    If so, mission accomplished. Her sleight of hand gave the anti-Palin chorus another prod to deride her as an empty-headed, subliterate clown, and her fans another cue to rally. The only problem is that the serious import of Palin’s overriding political message got lost in this distracting sideshow. That message has the power to upend the Obama presidency — even if Palin, with her record-low approval ratings, never gets anywhere near the White House.”

  21. She is unelectable unless this country succumbs to fascism. In an election, she will have to debate and be interviewed. She would never survive the scrutiny, and there are so many scandals that will emerge into the mainstream media. Just for one, this video is absolutely hysterically funny – SP actually imagines anyone could see this and believe she is 6 months pregnant! It’s either magical thinking, or she’s a sociopath.

  22. [cynic on] Politics really attracts and rewards sociopaths. And the electorate rules only with its magical thinking… whether it is Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, Reagan or Bush. And the media organizations cultivate this by strictly adhering to short, single message sound bytes – and then carefully selecting that which it will completely ignore. More blatant fascism could easily be arranged, and Palin could ascend because she is learning fast. The most important trait of any politician is to be manageable behind the scenes. Bush was the perfect puppet, his only role was that of cheerleader. Palin is much the same… a trainable cheerleader. [end cynic]

    Interesting times ahead.

  23. * Just over one in five (21%) Americans agrees with the statement that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, the “birther” movement’s principal claim. Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats and independents to say this. (Tea party identifiers are actually a little less likely than Republicans to question where the president was born.)

    * However, tea-party members are overwhelmingly convinced—more so than Republicans—that Barack Obama is a socialist (85% say he is). Only 34% of all Americans (and 66% of Republicans) believe that is the case.

    * 14% of white Americans say Barack Obama is a “racist who hates white people”. More than one in four Republicans agree.

    * One in five Americans thinks “ACORN stole the 2008 election”. A majority of Republicans (52%) agree.

    * On the question of who is more qualified to be president—Sarah Palin or Barack Obama—88% of Democrats choose Mr Obama; 66% of Republicans pick Mrs Palin.

    * 15% of Americans take the view that Barack Obama should be impeached. (Compare that to a 2006 CNN poll in which 30% of Americans said George Bush should be impeached.) Over a third (36%) of Republicans and 44% of tea-party identifiers would impeach Mr Obama.

    * One in five tea-party identifiers want their state to secede from the union, something only 7% of Americans overall would like. Midwesterners are the most likely region to favour secession.

  24. Fifteen states have polluter-driven resolutions to deny climate threat

    Yesterday, the South Dakota legislature passed a resolution telling public schools to teach “balance” about the “prejudiced” science of climate change by a vote of 37-33. Earlier language that ascribed “astrological” influences to global warming was stripped from the final version.

    This act of conspiracy-driven ideology is hardly alone—a Wonk Room investigation has found at least 15 state legislatures attempting to prevent limits on greenhouse gas pollution. The states of Alabama and Utah have already adopted resolutions calling for the overturn of the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming endangerment finding, with legislators in 13 more states in tow. Several of these “Dirty Air Act” resolutions argue that the overwhelming scientific consensus on the threat of man-made global warming is actually a conspiracy…

    Every resolution makes the false claim that protecting citizens from hazardous climate pollution would hurt the economy, instead of recognizing the potential of a green recovery. Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Alaska lawmakers talk about being “dependent” on the coal and oil industries whose lobbyists are fighting climate action. Several of the resolutions, drafted early last year, call on Congress to reject the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House of Representatives in June but has languished in the Senate. The Alaska and West Virginia resolutions support Sen. Lisa Murkowski‘s (R-Alaska) effort to rewrite the Clean Air Act (S.J.Res. 26), and Alabama’s resolution calls for the passage of Rep. Earl Pomeroy’s (D-N.D.) similar effort (H.R. 4396).

    The most legally bizarre resolution is Arizona state senator Sylvia Allen’s (R-Ariz.) “tenther” argument that the U.S. Congress does not have the Constitutional authority to regulate greenhouse gas pollution. Allen also believes the Earth is 6000 years old. The other Arizona resolution, along with the Kentucky, Virginia, and Washington resolutions, would attempt to block state enforcement of global warming rules.

  25. “More broadly, Mr Obama’s health-care travails are a reminder that the culture wars still rumble on. Religion may have receded as an electoral issue, largely because the economy is so wretched, but it could easily return. White evangelicals remain the most reliable Republican voting block, and their views affect the party’s platform. Only 23% of them accept that there is solid evidence of man-caused global warming, for example; about as many as believe in evolution. Democrats believe some odd things, too: a recent Pew poll found that they were roughly twice as likely as Republicans to believe in reincarnation, spiritual energy and astrology. But such beliefs have few political consequences. Democrats have not yet tried to spread the idea that voting Republican will ensure that you come back as a cockroach.”

  26. Born Again
    Why the “birther” myth refuses to die.
    By Christopher Beam
    Posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010, at 7:08 PM ET

    The latest incarnation: a bill approved 31-22 by the Arizona House of Representatives on Monday that would require 2012 presidential candidates to offer proof of citizenship in order to qualify for the ballot. The proposal has little chance of becoming law. For that to happen, the state Senate would have to pass it and the governor would have to sign it. But it’s still the closest birtherism has come to being codified.

    Democrats have dutifully condemned the bill. One Phoenix legislator said it’s turning Arizona into “the laughing stock of the nation.” White House spokesman Bill Burton dismissed the measure and others like it on CNN as “fringe right-wing radio conspiracy theories.” Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly wrote, “The fact that fringe lunacy is being taken seriously at this level suggests a strain of contemporary Republican thought that’s gone stark raving mad.” Even some Republicans are rushing to distance themselves from the bill, particularly senatorial candidate J. D. Hayworth, whom John McCain has tried to tie to the fringiest elements of the Tea Party movement.

    Even Republicans who want to require candidates to produce birth certificates don’t sound especially up in arms about Obama. Tommy Stringer, a member of the South Carolina General Assembly who introduced a bill similar to the Arizona measure, told the Washington Independent that the birth certificate the Obama campaign provided “satisfies” him, barring evidence that Obama was born elsewhere. So why did he introduce the bill? It’s about transparency, he said. It’s this kind of do-si-do that allows politicians on the right to associate themselves with the birthers but not necessarily be of them.

    It’s also good politics. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that only 58 percent of Americans believe Obama was born in the United States. Entertaining this notion without endorsing it thus works as a conservative dog whistle. It shows that politicians understand the concerns of the far right, even if they don’t plan on joining it.

  27. “Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black” – Tim Wise

    Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

    So let’s begin.

    Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

    Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

    To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

  28. Fifty one per cent of Republican primary voters said they endorsed the controversial “birther” theory that Mr Obama was not born in Hawaii, despite birth notices in two Honolulu newspapers in August 1961 and the fact that the state’s authorities have published his birth certificate online. A further 21 per cent said they were “not sure”.

    “Any thought that the birther theory has been put to rest can be thrown out of the window,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, which conducted the poll. “That view is still widely held in Republican circles.”

    A number of senior Republicans have denounced the birther theory, which gained ground during Mr Obama’s 2008 election campaign but has refused to subside. Supporters of the notion contend he was born in Kenya, the land of his father, or Indonesia, where he lived with his American mother from the ages of six to ten.

    But other party leaders have only agreed that Mr Obama is a US citizen under considerable arm-twisting from interviewers. Critics have accused them of collusion in spreading the impression of the president’s illegitimacy.

  29. Romney reaffirms stance that global warming is real
    Bucking skeptics, he urges changes

    MANCHESTER, N.H. — In the first town hall of his freshly announced presidential campaign, Mitt Romney yesterday reaffirmed his view that global warming is occurring and that humans are contributing to it, a position that has been rejected in recent years by many Republicans as the issue has taken on a greater partisan tinge.

    After opening remarks in which Romney blamed President Obama’s policies for the new anemic hiring figures, the first questioner from the floor — a software developer from Hanover, N.H. — wanted to know the candidate’s position on climate change, an issue his opponents have generally avoided so far.

    “I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course,’’ Romney said. “But I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that . . . so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.’’

    Romney has made clear that he opposes cap-and-trade, a system that would combat climate change by limiting total emissions and forcing polluters to pay for the greenhouse gases they produce. Instead, he said yesterday, he wants to wean the country from its dependence on foreign oil by seeking alternative sources of energy, and he said Americans should do more to conserve.

  30. Not too long ago, belief in climate science wasn’t a political issue. Honestly! As recently as the 2008 U.S. presidential election, both the Democratic and Republican candidates professed belief in the threat of global warming, and each advanced policies designed to curb U.S. carbon emissions. Senator John McCain had even co-sponsored one of the first congressional bills to create a carbon cap-and-trade system. And it wasn’t just McCain; Mitt Romney, runner-up for the GOP nomination last time around, supported a regional cap-and-trade program while he was governor of Massachusetts. There was still a wide gap between Democrats and Republicans on the severity of the climate-change threat and on how ambitious carbon-cutting policy should be, but at least there was a general agreement that global warming was a real thing.
    Not anymore. With the exception of Jon Huntsman — who barely registers in polls — you can’t find a Republican presidential candidate who unequivocally believes in climate science, let alone one who wants to do anything about it. Instead of McCain — who has walked back his own climate-policy realism since the 2008 elections — we have Texas Governor Rick Perry, who told voters in New Hampshire over the weekend that “I don’t believe manmade global warming is settled in science enough.” And many Republicans agree with him: the percentage of self-identified Republicans or conservatives answering yes to the question of whether the effects of global warming were already being felt fell to 30% or less in 2010, down from 50% in 2007-08. Meanwhile, liberals and Democrats remained around 70% or more.

  31. Deconstructing GOP’s climate contradictions

    Last Congress, the Democratic-controlled House took dramatic action to protect American families and our economy from the immense challenges posed by global climate change. We enacted new programs to invest in America’s clean energy future, and we passed a comprehensive energy bill, which stalled in the Senate, to reduce weather-altering carbon pollution.

    This Congress, the Republican-controlled House has reversed course. It has voted 21 times to block actions to address climate change, including a vote to deny that “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.”

    History will look back on this U-turn with profound regret.

    Last year, the National Academy of Sciences proposed a “carbon budget” for the United States that would represent how much carbon we can emit into the atmosphere between now and 2050 without triggering potentially catastrophic changes to our climate. We are on track to burn through our entire carbon budget in less than 25 years. Every year of delay means far more drastic actions will be needed in the future.

  32. Gingrich Defends Shifting Statements on Climate Change

    In the more than 30 years since Gingrich was first elected to the House, he has said there is both sufficient evidence to prove the climate is changing and also that there is no conclusive proof. He supported a cap-and-trade program to limit carbon emissions and then later testified against it before a Congressional committee.

    And while in the House he co-sponsored a bill that said climate change was “resulting from human activities,” but he later said he did not know if humans were to blame.

    “There is no compelling evidence on either side to either rule it out or rule in it,” Gingrich’s spokesman R.C. Hammond said of the candidate’s position on global warming and the impact of man-made pollution. “But at the end of the day he’s somebody who does care about the environment.”

    DiPeso said the Republican “orthodox” position on climate change is that “you can’t deal with this issue because it will kill the economy.”

    “It’s politically dangerous for prominent Republicans to acknowledge climate change is real and that human activity plays a prominent role,” he said. ”It could be that Gingrich is just trying to play a political game and stick with the political orthodoxy to keep himself from being vulnerable to attacks.”

  33. GOP Not Listening to Its Own Scientists on Climate Change

    GOP scientists say their attempts to talk about climate dangers with their party’s politicians and their aides have largely fallen on deaf ears.

    By Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News

    A number of prominent U.S. climate scientists who identify themselves as Republican say their attempts in recent years to educate the GOP leadership on the scientific evidence of man-made climate change have been futile. Now, many have given up trying and the few who continue notice very little change after speaking with politicians and their aides.

    “No GOP candidates or policymakers want to touch the issue, and those of us trying to educate them are left frustrated,” Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a registered Republican, told InsideClimate News. “Climate change has become a third rail in politics.”

    Heading into the 2008 presidential election, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, warned about the dangers of global warming. He was one of a group of moderate Republicans who used to be leading climate action advocates, acknowledging the scientific consensus on climate change and the need for federal policies to address it.

  34. Will your kid be taught that climate change is a hoax?

    One revelation from the recent Heartland Institute document leak is that the group is crafting a K-12 curriculum to teach kids that global warming is “controversial.” Heartland officials have confirmed this. So is climate change set to join evolution as the next big classroom controversy?

    Things do seem to be trending that way. Joshua Rosenau spends most of his time defending the teaching of evolution in schools for the National Center for Science Education. But a few years ago, he noticed that the teachers he was doing workshops with were far more interested in learning how to talk about global warming. “They were getting pressure from their own communities, from parents,” Rosenau says. “And they were looking for help on how to deal with this issue.”

    At the moment, it’s still unclear how frequently spats over climate change actually break out in classrooms. There are some 17,000 school districts around the country, and there’s no set curriculum for climate science. In some states, students might first encounter the topic in middle school; in others, it might show up in high-school earth science, or biology. “The main things we’re looking at right now are state standards and textbooks,” says Rosenau, whose organization is only beginning to gather data on how climate science actually gets taught. But even that’s an imperfect metric — a state-approved textbook might lay out basic climate science clearly, but there’s no guarantee teachers will use it.

  35. JUST because he belongs to it himself does not make Newt Gingrich wrong when he grumbles that America is run by an out-of-touch elite. If you want evidence, the data can now be found in a book published this week by Charles Murray, the co-author in 1994 of “The Bell Curve”, which became controversial for positing a link between race and intelligence. That controversy should not deter you. “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010” brims with ideas about what ails America.

    David Brooks, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, thinks it will be the most important book this year on American society. And even if you do not buy all Mr Murray’s ideas about what ails America, you will learn much about what conservatives think ails America, a subject no less fascinating. Though it does not set out to do so, this book brings together four themes heard endlessly on the Republican campaign trail. They are the cultural divide between elite values and mainstream values (a favourite of the tea-partiers); the case for religion and family values (think Rick Santorum); American exceptionalism (all the candidates); and (a favourite of Mitt Romney’s) the danger of America becoming a European welfare state.

  36. Green Donors Bet Romney Is Faking His New Climate Change Views And Will Flip Flop Back If Elected

    According to his own standards on the campaign trail today, Mitt Romney was once a “radical” on energy issues.

    In 2003, as governor of Massachusetts, he supported “investing in cleaning technologies” for an old coal plant in the commonwealth responsible for dozens of deaths, saying “I will not create jobs … that kill people.”

    Also that year, Romney set up a $15 million green energy trust fund for renewable energy in order to create a “major economic springboard for the commonwealth.”

    And in 2005, before deciding to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Romney called cap and trade “good business.” That was back when the Economist magazine named him a “climate friendly” Republican.

    Today, Romney says “we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” explaining that his new energy policy is to “aggressively develop our oil, our gas, our coal.”

  37. The Republican Party is beset by “con men and charlatans” whose specialty is to convince people that there is no climate change problem. And why do we believe them? Because for people who think we should try to solve problems with as little government regulation as possible, it’s always easier to deny there is a problem at all. Figuring out non-invasive strategies for tackling society’s problems is difficult, after all, and it’s even more difficult to sell them to a public that wants the government to “do something” when a problem pops up.

    And so we desperately want to believe that big problems are overblown or nonexistent. Whenever a group of people “desperately wants to believe” something, there will always be someone willing to tell them what they want to hear, whether the opportunists are charlatans or simply nutjobs.

  38. “While trust in science remained stable among people who self-identified as moderates and liberals in the United States between 1974 and 2010, trust in science fell among self-identified conservatives by more than 25 percent during the same period, according to a study by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. ‘Over the last several decades, there’s been an effort among those who define themselves as conservatives to clearly identify what it means to be a conservative,’ said the study’s lead author. ‘For whatever reason, this appears to involve opposing science and universities and what is perceived as the “liberal culture.” So, self-identified conservatives seem to lump these groups together and rally around the notion that what makes “us” conservatives is that we don’t agree with “them.”‘”

  39. Political and religious conservatives do not perfectly overlap. Black churchgoers, for instance, may be stern traditionalists when it comes to morality, yet reliably vote Democratic. Not all conservatives who oppose government action to tackle climate change are religious: plenty of businesses straightforwardly oppose rules which they fear will cost money and jobs. Meanwhile, some strict believers and church leaders think God wants people to take care of the environment; they talk of their responsibilities as “stewards of creation”. But in general the very religious—and especially the third of all Americans who call themselves evangelical or born-again Christians—have been allies for conservatives itching for a scrap with the scientific establishment. Though most evangelicals say that the earth is warming, in polls they are much less sure than the average American that this matters, or that man is to blame.

    Why this should be so is a subject of debate, and until recently a lot of guesswork. Evangelical Christianity is a slightly hazy term. To simplify, it describes a faith anchored by a believer’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and which closely follows the Bible. It is an individualistic faith—many jump from church to church until they find a style of worship that appeals—rooted in conservative communities (evangelicals are a majority in nine states, all in the South).

    A much-cited theory advanced in 1967 by Lynn White, a historian, charges that the devout draw from Genesis the idea that mankind has “dominion” over nature, and thus think they have a right to exploit the world’s resources. A hypothesis floated in the 1980s draws a link between “environmental apathy” and the belief, among some evangelicals, that the End Times are near. In 2010 Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist at Rice University, caused a stir with a survey of 1,700 scientists at Harvard, MIT and other elite colleges. About a third were atheists (as opposed to fewer than one-in-20 ordinary Americans), just under a third were agnostics, and the rest reported varying degrees of belief.

    At the annual meeting of the AAAS in Chicago on February 16th Dr Ecklund unveiled the first results of a still-larger study into science and religion, involving more than 9,000 survey respondents and lots of follow-up interviews. This new survey sought out “rank-and-file” scientists: researchers in company labs, engineers, dentists and so on. To her surprise, Main Street scientists are only a bit less religious than the average American. Perhaps Ivy League scientists are ultra-secular because they are Ivy League, not because they are scientists?

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