Conservatives Can Celebrate Earth Day, Too
Nearly fifty years ago, millions of Americans joined together to advocate for a healthy and sustainable environment. People of all different backgrounds and ideologies recognized the need to set aside a day for reflecting on the greatness of our planet. What we now know as Earth Day helped to create a coalition that transcended political and economic divisions – something we don’t often see today.
In the decades since its first celebration, Earth Day has unfortunately followed the polarizing course of American politics and in many ways serves as just another opportunity to draw contrasts between opposing partisans. Many Democrats will use the day to characterize the right as anti-environment, while Republicans will point to the left’s alarmist rhetoric. These tactics, although the norm in politics today, are not irreversible. To truly provide Earth Day with the recognition it deserves, Republicans and Democrats must acknowledge that we can disagree on the means to achieve progress on environmental issues and still celebrate the day’s overarching theme together.
Reaching this point of cooperation again will require that conservatives return to celebrating Earth Day in the first place. As environmental issues have become increasingly polarized, many conservatives have chosen to counteract the left’s climate alarmism by voicing opposition to any action, as opposed to proposing their own solutions. This strategy, despite appearing politically astute on its face, allows a small minority of alarmists on the left to completely control the narrative on environmental issues and all but eliminate the chances for productive dialogue. This must change, but conservative action will have to lead the charge.
Changing the narrative is no easy task, but incremental actions – like partaking in Earth Day celebrations – have lasting effects. Earth Day should provide a time for celebration rather than partisan politics, and the truth is that conservatives have lots to celebrate when it comes to environmental issues. The Republican Party has a long history of stewardship, ranging from Teddy Roosevelt’s creation of national parks to the more recent leadership of Senator Lisa Murkowski in crafting the landmark National Resources Management Act.
Beyond commemorating past actions alone, conservatives should celebrate Earth Day primarily because environmentalism is deeply rooted in and strongly reflects conservative principles. Effective conservation efforts rely on ensuring accountability, respecting property rights, and protecting liberty, all of which are core conservative principles. Rather than working to counteract the left at every turn, conservatives must recognize that preserving the greatness of our nation requires that we protect the environment and a conservative approach provides the best means to accomplish this.
Looking past the political optics surrounding environmental issues, we all can agree that everyone benefits from a healthier and more prosperous environment. To ensure that the brightest ideas are propelled forward, we must take steps to involve a variety of perspectives in the ongoing debate regarding how to best approach environmental issues. Creating this robust and sensible forum will require action from both sides of the aisle; Democrats must work to drown out doomsday alarmism on the fringe left, and Republicans must engage more of the party on these issues. Earth Day provides a tremendous opportunity to bridge these divides and open up a productive dialogue, so let’s celebrate together!