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Conservatives Are Hitting Rock Bottom

Ayn Rand and Jim Crow have driven the American right into moral bankruptcy. Two conservatives argue that there's no comeback in sight until they repudiate both.

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Growing inequality, declining opportunity and a widely shared perception of systemic unfairness (that the game is rigged in favor of the super rich), ultimately undermine the stability of the social order and delegitimize our political and economic institutions. They must be addressed, so that our society can be maintained and extended forward in time.

The undisputed threat of climate change must also be addressed, and it is a profound shame that the modern libertarian-conservative movement has decided to abandon reason in order to appeal to readers of Reason magazine. The decision by the conservative media industry to promote the idea that 98 percent of the world's climate scientists - as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation - are all involved in some nefarious Marxist conspiracy cooked up by George Soros, Al Gore, Carol Browner, Lisa Jackson and Van Jones would be funny if it weren't so manifestly pathetic - and dangerous.

Responsible Republicans such as former Secretary of State George Schultz; former Sens. John Warner and Edward Brooke; former Congressmen Bob Inglis, Wayne Gilchrest, Sherwood Boehlert and Michael Castle; and former Environmental Protection Agency heads William D. Ruckelshaus, Russell Train and William K. Reilly recognize the risk climate change poses to economic stability and national security. But the ascendant libertarian-conservatives have rejected their wisdom in favor of the ignorance of those who blithely assert that global warming is a hoax, or that human activities cannot possibly damage the environment (as if God can somehow be blamed for mankind's pollution).

Conservatives of an earlier generation understood the importance of taking care of the only planet we have. Kirk declared in 1970, " Nothing is more conservative than conservation." Barry Goldwater made the point even more forcefully in his 1971 book " The Conscience of a Majority":

"While I am a great believer in the free competitive enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment. To this end, it is my belief that when pollution is found, it should be halted at the source, even if this requires stringent government action against important segments of our national economy."

If Goldwater were still alive, the clownish commentators in today's conservative circus would label him a Communist.

In his 1970 State of the Union Address, President Nixon declared that the protection of our environment is a cause " beyond party and beyond factions." Further, he asserted:

"The automobile is our worst polluter of the air. Adequate control requires further advances in engine design and fuel composition. We shall intensify our research, set increasingly strict standards and strengthen enforcement procedures - and we shall do it now."

One wonders what Nixon would make of the modern right's demonization of the Chevy Volt, an emissions-free vehicle that has drawn the irrational ire of those with an ideological and/or financial allegiance to fossil fuel interests. The assault on the Volt has become so vehement that former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz - himself a denier of anthropogenic global warming - recently called out the conservative press for its lies about the car.

Now, just for a moment, set aside the dangers of climate change. The right's attack on the Volt is intellectually bankrupt from a national security perspective. After 9/11, weren't we told that there was a connection between "Islamofascism" and oil-producing nations? Wasn't it obvious that America needed to consume less oil, so as to avoid providing financial aid and comfort to anti-American regimes?

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