Republicans Care About the Environment, Too

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In honor of Earth Day 2015, I think it’s important to point out that being a conservative does not mean being anti-environmentalism. Back in November of 2014 after Republicans dominated the congressional midterms, The Hill reported that a Republican-led Senate spelled doom for the environment. Among the reasons given for this impending anti-environment disaster were the Republicans’ support of the Keystone XL Pipeline and their repeated ‘attacks’ on the Environmental Protection Agency.

Conservatism, and more broadly the Republican Party, does not inherently imply an anti-environmental position. In regards to the Keystone XL, even Republicans (granted, of a younger generation) will admit that it increases the risk of a potential environmental disaster in the form of an oil spill, invasiveness of a natural environment, etc. Those are irrefutable facts that are cause for concern.

However, both Republican and Democratic supporters of the pipeline are not blind to these possibilities, as much as environmental activists would love to think they are. The Keystone XL Pipeline is a fairly safe project, it would be carefully constructed, and would not be some ‘extra-lethal’ source of environmental damage, as Sen. Barbara Boxer argued it would. The official environmental impact statement published by the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs states that, “climate conditions during the construction period would not differ substantially from current conditions…climate changes are anticipated to occur regardless of any potential effects from the proposed Project” (ES-17).

The real problem is that neither party is proposing environmental alternatives in legislation that can be funded and passed in a bipartisan fashion. There are plenty of different options for energy that are being developed right now, but until then, the country cannot afford to postpone energy projects that will keep the country going. In the same formula that Democrats used to condemn Republican opposition to Obamacare: If Democrats can propose something better, then projects like the Keystone Pipeline will not have to be voted on in the first place. At this point it should be mentioned that 9 Democrats voted for the Keystone Pipeline in January 2015 when it was approved; it was not just Republicans.

Secondly, environmentalists often criticize the GOP for demanding reforms of the EPA. Primarily, these reforms would be intended to lessen the amount of power the EPA currently has. Returning to facts, the EPA does have too much power. It essentially writes policy and even had its authority curbed by the Supreme Court last summer because it was egregiously overreaching in its authority. Younger Republicans would agree that the EPA should have some influence in regulating greenhouse emissions and ensuring that we can all breathe in ten years. But the Republican attack on the EPA is not an attack on the environment, it is a call to implement the federal government’s checks and balances system with an agency that seems to think it can do whatever it wants. Maybe the EPA has been spending too much time with President Obama.

There are Republicans who are interested in global warming and preventing the collapse of our environment. The up and coming generation of Republicans are interested in finding creative solutions to fixing the damage already done, or at least trying to mitigate its effects. However, no one can expect the country to stop its traditional energy policies so that we can wait for more sustainable ideas to be developed, drafted into reasonable legislation that can be funded, and then proposed to Congress. Likewise, no one can expect a federal agency’s blatant disregard for the limits of its own authority to be ignored, as is the case with the EPA. Don’t politicize this Earth Day, because the next generation of Republicans and Democrats both are eager to address environmental concerns and protect the natural world around us.

This article presents the views of author Cole Horton, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. Horton and cannot be reproduced in any way without his approval. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Christie Finds Love in a Hopeless Place

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In September 2011, Chris Christie gave a speech at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. His message was a familiar one: how leadership and compromise could bring about conservative fiscal reforms in a deeply blue state. But, what was perhaps more notable than the speech itself (although a good one) was the response of the crowd.

Christie had them spellbound. Every line was followed by a roar of applause. Every joke was accompanied by a roll of laughter. Every question was succeeded by this one: “Will you please run for president?” The Right’s love affair with New Jersey’s governor was in full swing.

But, Christie’s decision not to run in 2012 left many wondering if he had missed his moment. Christie himself said he wasn’t ready at the time.

Since then, Governor Christie has undoubtedly experienced his share of ups and downs. In 2013, he won reelection in a landslide victory with over 60% of the vote and impressive gains among minority voters. Bridgegate and its fallout, however, dampened the mood of his historic win. Through it all, being the Republican governor of a state in the country’s largest media market never seemed to help.

Yet, on the cusp of a run for president, Christie appears unfazed. Sure, the task may have gotten harder. Certainly, the strategy will no longer be the same. But, for Christie, the calculation is quite simple. He says if his style is not voters’ “cup of tea,” he would “rather go home.”

Those writing off Christie forget several things. Mostly, they ignore what made him so popular in the first place. Christie has an unparalleled ability to connect with voters. He talks to people, not at them. At his best, he is disarming, self-deprecating, refreshing and funny. It is a style that allows him to turn a room full of skeptical voters into one of supporting (or at least respecting) fans.

In a crowded field, Christie’s brash style and bold policies may be just what it takes to cut through the noise. If his trip to New Hampshire last week was any indication, Christie will play well there. He had a good week. What’s all the more impressive, though, is that Christie was simply doing what he’s always done—talking hard truths, answering voters’ questions and unapologetically being himself.

Christie can’t win over every voter, but in a state like New Hampshire he can make his case to a lot of voters. And that case is a good one. Already, he has raised the level of debate in the Republican field. In New Hampshire, Christie told Republican voters to demand more from their candidates than “opposing government waste.” He instructed, “Anybody who comes up here and says that, boo them off the stage.”

However, Christie’s talk isn’t cheap. At Saint Anselm College, he laid out a surprisingly detailed plan to reform and preserve Social Security and Medicare, issues that most politicians would rather not even mention. By reducing benefits for the wealthiest Americans, Christie’s  plan reorients the system into something available to those who need it most. His reform is much more sensible than a liberal alternative, which would raise payroll taxes without addressing the absurdities of the current system.

Raising the age of eligibility is another part of Christie’s plan, and it’s a fix that’ll surely make the defenders of the status quo cringe. But, as Christie notes, maintaining the current age is unsustainable.  The proposal may be contentious, but Christie knows how to sell it. “I’m not looking to be the most loved guy in the world. I’m looking to be most respected,” he likes to say.

Perhaps Chris Christie is just like ever other “would-be president of the past,” selling himself as “the one guy willing to talk straight about the government’s unsustainable finances.” But then again, Chris Christie isn’t like any other would-be president of the past. He might just very well be the perfect guy to do the things that no one ever could, or would, do before.

This article presents the views of author Kevin Toohers, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. Toohers and cannot be reproduced in any way without his approval. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

A Republican Party for Immigrants

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Last week, the Asian American Student Association’s online project, Exposure Redefined, posted a profile of a woman named Cheung Gunho (张官好). Although the Exposure Redefined project has highlighted various Asian Americans on campus in the past, the profile on Cheung Gunho is different from all the others: not only is Cheung a Leo’s worker, but she is also an immigrant from Hong Kong.

Up until I read her interview, I always thought of her as just one of the Chinese workers who works at Leo’s. But as I read her answers regarding work and her life in America, I could not help but feel a deep amount of respect for her. Despite living with a health condition, having a daughter who’s fully grown, and speaking very little english, she continues to come to work every day and tries to make an honest living (and let’s be honest, working in a cafeteria serving college students is far from being a glamorous job). Yet, what struck me even more is the fact that not once in the interview did she complain about the difficulties of her life, or the fact that she has to work long hours to simply survive and get by. Although her life is not easy, everything she does is to ensure that her daughter lives a happy life.

In reality, the lives of many immigrants who come to America are very much like that of Cheung. Although many come with dreams of making lots of money and living very comfortable lives, the truth is that many immigrants must work long hours which yield only marginal gains. Many Chinese immigrants, for example, work in restaurants like Cheung’s husband. They know that they likely will never make a six figure salary, own a large home with a white picket fence in suburbia, or possess many aspects of the traditional “American dream.” Instead, much of their lives are devoted simply to supporting their families and trying to give their children a better life.

In political discourse today concerning immigration, much talk surrounds illegal immigrants and whether or not they should be given amnesty. As a party, we do a very good job of opposing amnesty and arguing why it’s bad public policy. However, in our fight against amnesty and illegal immigration, we often times don’t give enough credit to the other side of the immigration story: those who have come here the legal way, and those who work hard every day to simply make ends meet. We always talk about how people should come here the “right” way, yet in the current immigration debate, these people hardly ever factor into the discussion. As a party, that’s something that we need to change.

A criticism made by Democrats against the GOP is that, although we fight ardently against illegal immigration, once people do come here legally, we simply just forget about them. As Republicans, we know that this narrative is not true; however, we can do a far better job of showing why this criticism is wrong. When we talk about immigration, we should not only explain why we are against illegal immigration, but we should also make it clear that we support people like Cheung Gunho–immigrants who’ve settled down in this country and who work hard every day to support themselves. As the party that champions the notion that hard work can lead to success, our rhetoric needs to reflect that we empathize with these people who do work hard, but haven’t yet achieved the dream that they came here for. We don’t have to support struggling immigrants by doling out more government subsidies, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay them more deference.

At the same time, attacking legal immigration as being detrimental to American jobs is virtually the worst message to send in terms of creating a respectable conservative stance on immigration. Not only is it not a palatable message to the general electorate, but it represents a Republican Party that has gone backward instead of forward. While some factions within the GOP may hold this narrow-minded and nativist view, it is certainly not one that the party itself should adopt. Thankfully, that likely won’t happen.

Liberal Democrat policies are far from being effective, but one skill the Left has truly mastered is being able to empathize with people and get people to feel like they’re looking out for them. If Republicans expect to evolve and capitalize on the 21st century’s changing demographics, then this is a lesson that we too must learn. We don’t have to abandon our principles, nor should we, but our immigration rhetoric can be improved to reflect a Republican Party that actively supports legal immigrants. After all, we are a nation of immigrants.

For too long, the Republican Party has been seen as a party for old, white guys. We need to be seen as a Republican Party that’s for everyone–hard working immigrants included.

This article presents the views of author Alex Robledo, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. Robledo and cannot be reproduced in any way without his approval. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.