| Anti-intellectualism amongst the political right

The Republican movement from discussion to denial

Accusing climate change of being a conspiracy theory? Must be from Zeitgeist, right? Possibly your grandfather? None of these options are correct, though the latter is the closest. This absurd quote is from Rick Perry, a potential Republican nominee for the American Presidency. While it should be disturbing that someone who could potentially run the most powerful country in the world blatantly rejects scientific evidence, if you know anything about Perry you’ll know he’s just being consistent. After all, denying climate change seems to mesh quite nicely with belief in intelligent design. Unfortunately, Perry’s illogical dismissals aren’t unique, and have infected the political Right in America.

Climate change was once appropriately perceived, like cancer, as a genuine threat against humanity. It has now become a partisan issue; a mere litmus test for how Right or Left one is. Despite Perry’s claim, this shift has not occurred due to scientists doubting climate change. The consensus on climate change amongst scientists has only grown in recent years, now standing at 98 per cent according to the National Academy of Sciences. Contrastingly, belief in climate change amongst Republicans has declined from 50 per cent in 2008, to 30 per cent in 2010.

There is also no elaborate history of climate change denial in the Republican Party. Republicans like John McCain, Newt Gingrich, and even George W. Bush have recognized and sought to fight against climate change.  Currently, however, GOP candidates like Perry have routinely denied that climate change exists, while others, like Romney, argued against the regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA, which was ironically created by Richard Nixon. Republicans taking a different approach than Democrats to solving climate change is to be expected. The utter denial of climate change amongst much of the Republican Party should not be.  Unfortunately, with the rise of the Tea Party movement and their characterization of climate change as an invention of the liberal elite, it looks like this disturbing trend will only continue.

The trend of evolution denial and religious extremism within the Republican Party is already dangerous enough. The addition of the blatant disbelief of environmental facts should be a death blow to the credibility of the party. While I would regard the decimation of the Republican Party as a cause for celebration, what if the Republican’s don’t lose? We have begun to see evidence of what this would entail with the Republicans blocking regulations in September that “force industry to reduce unhealthy air emissions, such as mercury from coal-fired power plants,” claiming that these regulations “would kill jobs and burden businesses with billions of dollars in additional costs.”  Essentially, the safety of Americans will be put at stake for the sake of corporations under a congress which has been labelled as “the most anti-environmental Congress in history.”  With this explicit anti-intellectualism, it seems that many Republicans are no longer concerned with conserving structures, but, instead, with conserving ignorance.

Balaclava Discourse is a column written by Davide Mastracci on the structures , authority, hierarchy, and domination in society. It appears every other Monday in commentary. You can email him at balaclavadiscourse@mcgilldaily.com.


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