The discourse in the United States has become so polarised that it is very rare for Republicans and Democrats to agree on any issues, and the policy debate climate change has become so ludicrous that one of political parties thinks that man-made climate change is a liberal hoax. When looking at the modern Republican Party it is hard to identify those who actually give a shit about the environment, but those who do like former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are on what would now be called the ‘moderate’ wing of the GOP. However I would argue that the more libertarian wing of the GOP should also be supporting some causes along side liberals, environmentalists and, God forbid, socialists, because many activities supported by environmentalists are compatible with the dangerous ideology of people like Glenn Beck and Rand Paul.
The most right-wing elements of the Republican Party are often concerned with the size of government, especially the federal government, as well as believing, to some degree or another, that taxation is theft. Common ground shared by actual libertarians, not just ones who pay lip service to some parts of libertarian philosophy, and socialists is the hostility towards large fossil fuel companies receiving sizeable government subsidies as this interferes with the free market. Lobbying for the end of such government subsides would the state’s interference in the market and the funds could be reallocated to individual states to mitigate the effects of climate change, which people agree is taking place.Another way of reducing the power of fossil fuel companies would be moving away from gasoline powered vehicles by taking up cycling which is cheap and makes that person totally self-sufficient from large private companies or public transport provided by the government. Embracing cycling as a libertarian issue would be a way of the most right-wing people in the GOP to advocate reducing pollution without government coercion or tax rises. Cycling is also the total embodiment of the libertarian philosophy; self-sufficiency and the distance travelled is literally dependent on the physical endeavour of that person- the ‘blood, sweat and tears on the individual’ if you will.
Another thing I would like to touch upon is the idea of local organic farming. A UN report in 2013 has said that the world’s population could be fed through local organic farming which would once again make individuals and communities entirely self-sufficient and therefore not reliant upon the government or large agricultural companies like Monsanto. If such a policy was enacted throughout the world, and everybody on the planet was fed in this way, the US government would no longer need to provide nutrition programmes, greenhouse emissions wouldn’t be given off from transporting food around the world, which even if libertarians don’t accept contributes to climate change would improve air quality, and big companies like Monsanto would lose their ability to corrupt the government via campaign contributions. Furthermore, the government wouldn’t have to raise people’s taxes or institute any ‘business-killing’ regulations, in fact the size of the government would shrink which may result in moderate tax decreases. By shifting government responsibilities onto communities, the size of the government would be reduced, which libertarians would love, and the influence of capitalist corporations would also be reduced, which leftists like myself would love.
In socialist philosophy, a concept coined by Friedrich Engels is prevalent and would actually be supported by these Republicans if they were made aware of it: the withering away of the state. Marx also speaks of another concept which, when added to this first one, creates a front which communists, socialists and free-market capitalists like Rand Paul actually agree on: the difference between nationalisation and socialization. When these two left-wing ideas are put together within the context of environmentalism both sides agree that people should invest in sustainable energy for themselves and not have centralised energy systems run by either private corporations or state monopolies.
In places like Arizona and Texas libertarians want to be energy independent from despots in Saudi Arabia and Iran, but also from the US government; this concept it what Marx and Engels was talking about- when an industry is socialized (i.e. owned and operated by society), the state becomes redundant and withers away, which reduces the size of government. With power transferred away from big companies, foreign dictators and the state, libertarians and leftists agree on the issue on sustainable energy independence.
What these suggestions show is that common ground on climate change and environmentalism is so compelling that people who disagree on what the economic system of a country should be can still come together to prevent environmental degradation. If the labels that terrify people on the Right were ignored and the ideas that were being articulated were listened to, the libertarian wing of the Republican Party may realise that they actually agree with what socialists, communists and left-wing environmentalists have been advocating all these years.