“There’s no question the climate is changing,” confessed Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, in March of last year. “That’s never been up for debate.” That Democrats appear to think this is some sort of conservative heresy only exposes their insularity. Tillerson’s is the view of many on the right who have been dubbed “climate deniers” by a rabid sort of fanatical environmental activist. The term itself is so steeped in frustration and anxiety that those who deploy it don’t seem to recognize it is entirely divorced from reason or meaning. Democrats and Republicans can bicker over the nature of the scientific debate regarding the mankind’s impact on the environment. What Democrats cannot reconcile is the fact that right-leaning Americans equate Democratic prescriptions for climate progress with job loss.
Democrats have done nothing to alleviate those concerns. Indeed, they’ve cultivated them. “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” Hillary Clinton proudly boasted in March. This was only the logical conclusion of Barack Obama’s January 2008 promise to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that he hoped to impose a tax on carbon emitters so onerous that it would “bankrupt” new coal-fired power plants. Clinton followed on with a pledge to expand the safety net for the newly jobless and to fund new job training for workers with an obsolete skill set in her imperious reign. Are Democrats really confused by the fact that voters who formerly counted themselves members of the Democratic Party’s coalition rejected this stated threat to their livelihoods?
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party’s prescription for a post-carbon future—one predicated on the promise of renewable energy—seems forever on the horizon. It seems as though this ballyhooed Green Tomorrow can only be midwifed into existence by the benevolent federal intervention. It also happens that so much of that federal intervention on the part of green entrepreneurs in the Obama era appeared to onlookers like corrupt patronage.
Solyndra, the most famous case of federal waste and mismanagement in the green energy sector, received over $500 million from the 2009 “stimulus” bill before eventually going bankrupt and sticking taxpayers with the tab. Investigators later claimed that the company defrauded the government and lied to independent market analysts and credit-ratings agencies regarding its viability. “Employees acknowledged that they felt tremendous pressure, in general, to process loan guarantee applications,” read a report from the Department of Energy’s inspector general’s office. “They suggested the pressure was based on the significant interest in the program from Department leadership, the Administration, Congress, and the applicants.”
Solyndra was hardly the only renewable energy firm to trade on Democratic infatuation with the prospect of green technology, regardless of its feasibility. The pond-scum-based biofuel firm Sapphire Energy received $104.5 million in Energy and Agriculture Department loans in the Obama years, creating a grand total of 36 new jobs. And all for the project of designing a synthetic motor fuel that costs approximately $26 per gallon. The bankrupt Colorado-based solar panel manufacturer Abound Solar went belly up only after receiving $68 million in subsidies. Beacon Power defaulted on $14 million on Energy Department loans and went bankrupt before eventually restructuring, writing the ship, and eventually servicing its obligations. This, taxpayers were told by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, was a great victory for the cause of green energy.
The Great Unwashed can be forgiven for noticing all this and concluding that Democrats have an interest in destroying viable, job-creating industries while propping up unsustainable boondoggles. At this common-sense realization, the left is compelled to mock their lack of environmental consciousness. Even in political exile following a series of disastrous election cycles, the environmental left cannot help but deride Americans who maintain a bizarre attachment to self-sufficiency and employment.
The Democratic Party avoids confronting these truths because they cannot be reconciled. The left cannot square the fact that the existing energy sector must, in their view, be destroyed in order to build up a fanciful green future on its ashes. Until the left comes to terms with the fact that the passion and high-dollar donations that come from its environmental wing has rendered their party toxic outside coastal and urban enclaves, they won’t be able to repair the damage done during the Obama years.