The Environment & Mod Squad

Posted by Jack Sterne,


As this Wall Street Journal piece points out, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest's primary loss two weeks ago accelerated the decline of another endangered species: the Moderate Republican.

Organizations like the Club for Growth, which raised and spent over $1 million for Gilchrest's primary opponent, have aggressively targeted what they refer to as "RINO's" (Republicans In Name Only), with the explicit goal being to run them out of the party.

The result is an increasingly uni-polar Republican party that brooks no dissent from party orthodoxy, rather than the "big tent" that Barry Goldwater used to advocate.

The irony is that many of our bedrock environmental laws were signed into law by Republican Presidents (Nixon = Endangered Species Act, NEPA, Clean Water Act; Bush I = Clean Air Act of 1990, etc.) with the support of their party. And, let's not forget that Teddy Roosevelt was, without a doubt, the first environmentalist president.

But there really is no reason why Republicans can't favor environmental protection, as this recent article about Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wa.) demonstrates. If anything, it's good politics for those in suburban swing districts.

The truth is that we need Republican votes to pass good environmental policy, regardless of who is in the White House. That's because Democrats have now become the "big tent" party, and there are plenty of them in the wrong place on some key environmental issues, especially ocean ones (Just look at Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

Perhaps Obama's message of conciliation, and appeal to centrists, along with McCain's undeserved reputation as a moderate, will reverse the dangerous trend toward increasing polarization in Congress. Here's to hope, as our environment is dependent upon it.


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i covered gilchrest's campaign locally and it was a brutal affair. gilchrest and one other moderate republican were endlessly labeled as "liberal" for their support of the environment among other things. looks like that tactic will work because there's not much hope for the dem challenger.

The pundit buzz seems to be that Americans are looking for bipartisanship rather than extremism, but that didn't hold true in the Maryland primaries: a Republican (Gilchrest) lost because he wasn't conservative enough, and a Democrat (Wynn) lost because he wasn't liberal enough.

does Gilchrest have any thoughts of running as an independent in the general?

The alienation by the hard-core right and the religious zealots is the reason why I've left the Republican party. I was one of the moderates you spoke of, and, as far as I'm concerned, if the nuts take control of the party, good riddence to them. Hopefully I'm not alone in "voting with my feet" by walking away from the party.

By Morris Hattrick (not verified) on 27 Feb 2008 #permalink

Congressman Frank Pallone may have voted bad on some environmental issues, (which?) but he earned 100% perfect scores in both 2002 and 2003 from the League of Conservation Voters. So on the environment, a Dem is usually better than the Republican.

By Bill Collins (not verified) on 27 Feb 2008 #permalink

I would guess that a lot of the Independent and Republican support being attracted by Obama is because of widespread moderate alienation at the current tendency to expel "heretics" from the Republican party.

As for Rep. Pallone, his 100% score on the LCV Scorecard demonstrates that scorecards can be somewhat misleading tools. We have never published one at Ocean Champions because so much of evaluation of candidates is subjective, and voting records are just a part of it. Plus, it's very easy to pick and choose votes.

On fisheries issues, and indeed most environmental issues, I would take Rep. Gilchrest over Rep. Pallone any day, because Rep. Gilchrest has shown a lot more courage than Rep. Pallone. Rep. Gilchrest has a history of standing up to the leadership of his party, which is really difficult, while Mr. Pallone is now leading the charge to weaken the overfishing provisions of the Magnsuon-Stevens Act because of a small, but vocal constituency in his district. His conservation principles are somewhat flexible, let's say. Which would you rather have?

This issue is certainly not limited to the Republican party. In Maryland, the moderate, Democrat and incumbent Wynn lost his primary contest to a far left winger. This is a byproduct of the primary system in which only the most motivated (usually partisan) people turn out to vote.

I'll be a good blog and continuous tracking
more sensitive to the environment for a world that scientists have signed kyoto protocol Americas efforts should otherwise the children will see some animals as a fossil