Friday, June 2, 2017

The Simple Explanation

While there has been a lot of wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over President Trump's decision to have the United States withdraw from the Paris climate accords, it seems to me that this is a move about domestic politics more than anything having to do with the climate or the environment.

The whole thing strikes me as a three-pronged statement to the base of voters who support Donald Trump.

  1. Nations who signed on to this need the United States more than the United States need them, so
  2. They cooked up a climate agreement that was cynically designed to better their economies at the expense of the United States, and
  3. They were aided and abetted in this by an Obama Administration that was feckless at best, possibly "globalist" and actively hostile to the interests of "ordinary Americans" at worst.
These three factors strike me as driving this behavior more than any level of climate skepticism. Because if there's one thing that we understand about voter base that President Trump is appealing to (and needs to keep fearful of an impending Apocalypse) it's that they feel that a) the "Global √Člites" and the Democratic Party have it in for them, and will do whatever they can to injure them. (Dirty Socialists, and all that.)
I used to say to our audiences: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
Upton Sinclair "I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked" 1935
The coal miners and other people that President Trump are counting on are in a position where continuing their livelihoods as they currently know them depends on their not understanding that there is any real need for change. They are not "climate skeptics" in any real sense of the word - that would presume that this were actually about the climate, rather than an unwillingness to risk un- and underemployment, for what they understand to be the sake of people overseas.

And I think that President Trump understands this better than most of his critics. It's easy to call upon people to make sacrifices. But it's difficult to get people to suffer them willingly. And President Trump knows that by casting that call to sacrifice as the work of people who disdain them, that he can count on their continued, and enthusiastic, support.

No comments: