By David Dodson , a former Wyoming U.S. Senate candidate and and regular contributor to the Laramie Boomerang.
The Green New Deal is impractical, expensive, unrealistic, and reckless; and when Americans were asked if they support it, 80 percent of registered voters from all parties said yes. To this support the GOP’s official response has been principally sarcasm and contempt, which may be the undoing of the Republican Party and with it Wyoming’s economic future. Let me explain.
A few weeks ago, I had dinner with a Republican senator who told me that based on demographic trends there was a certainty Texas would become Democratic by 2026. He even told me that in his conversations with Jared Kushner, he’d warned the Trump campaign not to take Texas and their 38 electoral votes for granted because the fall may come as soon as 2020. Then he said, “When Texas goes, we’ll be the minority party for a generation.”
A week later, I had dinner with a former senior member of the Democratic National Committee (yes, I have friends in both parties). I told him what I had heard, and he blandly confirmed for me that the eventual fall of Texas was more or less taken for granted by both parties.
We know that no presidential candidate will ever spend more than a refueling stop in Wyoming during a campaign. We have a whopping three votes in the electoral college, which reliably goes to the Republican nominee anyway, and we only have one seat out of 435 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Meanwhile, 49 percent of our land is controlled by the Federal government and one-third of our GDP comes from extraction industries regulated by Washington. If my smart friends from both parties are right about Texas, our state is in for a tough future if we don’t start paying attention to what is happening around us.
Which brings us back to the Green New Deal.
The GND is really two policy proposals rolled up into one. One half addresses climate change and the other proposes classic socialist economic proposals. The Green New Deal is equal parts wind energy, equal parts guaranteed jobs for anyone. As these details became better known, support among Americans for the plan came down. Nonetheless, nearly 48 percent of Americans still support the Green New Deal and only 28 percent oppose it.
But that alone misses the most important point. Because what many in the GOP fail to recognize is that the reduction in support comes from the socialist economic policies of the GND, not the bill’s energy policies. Support for the environmental proposals in the Green New Deal are still supported by a whopping 72 percent of all voters, including 77 percent of the all-important independent voters. Even Republicans are split almost evenly in their support for the environmental half of the bill.
Just as important, support for the GND’s energy policies is even stronger among young voters. Why Wyoming should care is that youths showed up to the polls in 2018 in record numbers for a mid-term election, and then voted Democratic at a rate three times higher than in the 2014 mid-terms. Of the fifty House races in 2018 that were considered most likely to be influenced by the 18-29 year-old vote, 39 of them were won by Democrats and 30 flipped from Republican to Democrat. It was the youth vote that carried Democratic Senator Tester to victory in Montana, the youth vote that shocked the GOP when it pushed the U.S. Senate race in Mississippi into a run off after a mere 0.9 percent spread in the special general election, and the youth vote that nearly upset Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Meanwhile, instead of protecting Wyoming’s future our own Senator Enzi ridicules the GND as outlawing lawnmowers and cows (it does not), and Representative Cheney says will end air transportation (it won’t). Senator Barrasso alone has taken a more reasoned approach, by pointing out that while the details of the GNP are unaffordable and harmful to the economy – which they are – the Green Deal’s underlying goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions should get serious policy attention by the GOP. Wyoming leaders can to mock the other 72 percent of America and make jokes about the Green New Deal outlawing cow farts, but they’ll be doing so at Wyoming’s expense. Because if Texas falls in the next few years, Wyoming and our three electoral votes simply won’t count when it’s time to set coal and natural gas policy.
With Senator Enzi’s chairmanship of the Budget Committee, and Senator Barrasso’s chairmanship of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Wyoming still has a say in policies that will impact our coal and natural gas industry. But we need to recognize that if the experts I spoke with from Washington are right, that will likely change. The Hall of Fame hockey star Wayne Gretzky once said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” It’s clear where the energy puck is going, the question is whether or not Wyoming will be there to score.
David Dodson is a former Wyoming U.S. Senate candidate and and regular contributor to the Laramie Boomerang. You can follow Dave on twitter @davedodson307.