THE BLOG
01/27/2016 07:34 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Trump Blizzard of 2016: Republican Candidates For President and Climate Change

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is joking about climate change. Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, says it's not on the list of things that keep him awake at night. They say climate change is "a distant threat". U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) wants to stop the nation's leading science agency, NASA, from studying the planet. Donald Trump can't be bothered with an issue that hurts jobs. All the Republican candidates to be the next president of the United States, raising millions from corporate America, presumably have the needs of business foremost in mind.

A recent report by the UK Guardian on the World Economic Forum says, no. For the first time, the World Economic Forum -- where the world's leading corporations get their intelligence -- placed climate change first among threats to the world economy in 2016.

The GOP candidates for president missed the memo. They are too busy chasing Donald Trump. Donald Trump is thwarting the GOP's plan to insert another anodyne candidate like George W. Bush into the White House. Meanwhile, for Trump climate change is a problem to solve like walling off Mexico: "I will be the greatest negotiator with the weather the world has ever seen."

More accurately, the rest of the GOP field is chasing Trump supporters. In a provocative essay for The Atlantic, David Frum wrote in "The Great Republican Revolt" those supporters are primarily angry, white males without a college education. That slice of the electorate has trended Republican despite Republican priorities -- favoring large corporations and corporate power -- that put the middle class in the greatest jeopardy since the Great Depression.

The US economy may be doing OK, Frum writes, but male Republican voters are decidedly not. They want their country back. They want their status back. A stable job with a route to advancement. That's what Donald Trump is promising with a Tweet-based campaign for the hearts and minds of the greatest country on earth whose national and state politics, mainly in red states, fail to acknowledge how climate change could quickly unravel safety and security of all Americans.

Republican voters do see the impacts of climate change.
The deepest of the Red States are most affected by severe weather. They see, but they don't want to recognize that climate change, in the parlance of the US Department of Defense, is a threat. Red state voters perceive themselves to be surrounded by threats. They want to wall off climate change the same way they want to wall off Mexico.

Climate chaos casts an gargantuan shadow over the stability that Donald Trump supporters crave. It is not, as Ted Cruz imagines, the effect of being "beaten into submission by the progressive left". In 2016 climate change is the wolf howling at the door.

And so, the Trump blizzard of 2016 is paradoxically more comforting than reality. This revolt of angry, white males may be like a river of the electorate overflowing its banks, but corporate America is decidedly not being pulled by the flow. Through Republican control of state legislatures and Congress, it is furiously locking down prerogatives like squirrels hoarding acorns before onset of winter.