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Monday, May 12, 2008

McCain's Political Global Warming Jujitsu

As a result of this debate, Newt Gingrich became the scourge of many on the right. That's because he ceded that global warming does exist and that it needs to be dealt with. Newt called his view green conservatism.

The answer is simple: For the last 36 years, I have watched the pro-regulation, pro-litigation, pro-taxation liberals label themselves as the only Americans who care about the environment.

The leftwing machine would have you believe that to care about clean air and water, biodiversity, and the future of the Earth you have to both buy in to their catastrophic scenarios and sign on to their command-and-control bureaucratic liberal agenda, including dramatic increases in government power and draconian policies that will devastate our economy, as the only solution to environmental challenges.

While many on the right may never fully forgive Newt for his view, it is not only the right policy view but the right political view. Conservatives that argue the existence of global warming cede to the other side solutions to all sorts of environmental and energy issues. Whether or not global warming exists is a matter for scientists to debate. What to do to make ourselves more eco friendly is up for policy makers to debate.

In the debate with John Kerry, the arguements were simple. Newt thought that lower taxes were the driving forces necessary to propel entrepeneurs to create more eco friendly products. John Kerry believed that we couldn't count on entrepeneurs to do it and thus government mandates were the way to go. I think that Newt's arguement was stronger. More importantly though, I think the American public will always choose lower taxes over government regulations.

Today, John McCain took a page out of Newt's environmental playbook.

John McCain broke with the Bush administration and Republican Party orthodoxy Monday as he not only declared global warming real, but reached out to Democrats and independents with a free-market solution that includes capping carbon-fuel emissions. The GOP presidential contender also prodded China and India — two major emitters of the greenhouse gases blamed for the planet’s warming — to join the effort, although he muted planned talk of tariffs against them in favor of “effective diplomacy” to encourage their compliance.

Rather than spending the entire campaign having the Democrats paint him as uncaring about the environment, we will spend this campaign debating the right way to clean the environment. Now, it's probably true that the issue of global warming will be yet another thorn in the side of Conservatives vis a vis McCain. Of course, for the Conservatives the alternative in this election is no better. Thus, we will have two basic and competing questions. Do we want more regulations, mandates, and government control, or do we want less taxes and more innovation? That will be the environmental question this year, and I think that McCain will find himself on the side of most Americans with his answer.

Furthermore, by framing the environmental debate as a clash between these two philosophies, he can frame this as part of a larger economic policy debate. Do we want the Democrats plan of more taxes, regulation, and government control, or do we want less taxes and more entrepeneurial innovation?

Like I said, McCain just played political jujitsu on global warming.

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