Vox published a video today featuring Tea Party co-founder and conservative activist Debbie Dooley making the case for how liberals can “win over Republicans on renewable energy.” (She’s clearly passionate about that subject even though it puts her at odds with many others in her party.)
There’s one particular part of the video that we should all take a look at because it both reinforces every stereotype liberals have about their ideological opponents while suggesting a path forward.
That is a mistake that a lot of environmentalists make, when talking to Republicans and conservatives about solar, about clean energy. They lead off with climate change!
That is the wrong message.
If you deliver the message of energy freedom, energy choice, competition, national security, innovation, all of a sudden, you will have a receptive audience and they will listen to you.
If you lead off with climate change, they’re not going to pay a bit of attention to anything else you say. They’ve been brainwashed for decades into believing, oh, we’re not damaging the environment…
I know she’s suggesting we should just reframe our message. If we speak their language and use their buzzwords, we have a better chance of getting through to them. She’s absolutely right. That principle applies to everything from politics to teaching to debating.
But what does it say about conservatives that the mere mention of “climate change” causes them to tune out? What does it say about a political party when pointing out established science discredits you in their eyes?
Dooley is essentially saying, Don’t be honest with conservatives about science. They can’t handle it. But if we can’t be honest with them, what’s going to stop them from pursuing another conspiracy theory in the future? Are Republicans really so weak that attaching “freedom” to an idea is the only way for them to take it seriously? We shouldn’t have to change the nature of the debate because one side refuses to acknowledge reality.
So, sure, if we want Republicans to start supporting environmental causes, we need to step inside their bubble and use phrasing that gets through to them.
Or, better yet, we can stop electing Republicans like that and vote for people who aren’t afraid of facts.