Conservatives vs. Liberals

A few election cycles ago, Conservatives tried to turn “liberal” into a dirty word. They spat it out in a negative light over and over. And Democrats took the bait.

Suddenly, no Democrat wanted to be called a liberal. By avoiding the label, they reinforced the Right’s claim. And “liberal” became a dirty word in politics.

But what does liberal mean? It means generous. Is being generous a bad thing? Not according to Jesus. Remember the parable of the widow’s mite? It was a small offering in monetary terms… but it was a big chunk of this poor woman’s savings.

Or the parable of the prodigal son. When the foolish son returned to his family, the father killed the “fatted calf” – feast food – to welcome his errant son home.

Giving freely was kind of Jesus’ thing. Which makes it seem odd the political Right claims Jesus as their own. Because…

Jesus Condemned the Religious Right Over and Over

Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. He criticized the Pharisees – the Religious Right of his day. And he often broke bread with the poor and sinners.

Fast-forward 2,000 years, and who advocates for the poor? Mostly liberals. Programs to help prisoners re-integrate into society? Mostly run by liberals.

On the other hand, who fights against universal health care? Conservatives. In spite of claiming to be “pro-life.” Which also makes the Right’s support of the death penalty seem odd. You can add a few other choices to that list, too.

If you’re pro-life, why would you oppose the SNAP program, which feeds poor children? Why would you oppose a minimum wage that brought the poorest Americans out of poverty? Why would you oppose universal health care.?

If you’re pro-life… all of these programs preserve lives. Fighting them tooth and nail makes no sense.

Unless you’re not really pro-life.

Today’s Conservatives Aren’t… Conservative

To conserve means to save for the future. This is something political Conservatives don’t have built into their DNA.

Take climate change as an example. More than 97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is driving rapid climate change. And that change is a catastrophe.

Ice caps are melting… and low-lying nations are threatened with extinction. Super-storms are becoming more common. And the growth cycle of plants is changing. Bumblebees may disappear – along with many other species.

Yet Conservatives in the U.S. cling to the tiny percentage of scientists – mostly on corporate payrolls – who dispute climate science. And they push for continued use of fossil fuels.

In spite of our quickly diminishing supply of these fuels.

“Conservatives” aren’t trying to conserve energy sources. Instead, they back over-use of limited resources. There’s nothing conservative about that.

These “conservatives” also aren’t trying to conserve states and nations facing obliteration by the over-use of fossil fuels.

According to worldatlas(dot)com, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands are among the countries most threatened by climate change.

In the U.S., Florida – with a highest point of just 345 feet above sea level – faces catastrophic flooding as sea levels rise.

Yet, Conservatives – who supposedly want to preserve the status quo – are fine with most of southern Florida disappearing beneath the waves.

That includes Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s multi-million-dollar social club. Which is barely at sea level already.

The Accurate Name for Modern “Conservatives”

So, todays conservatives actually favor massive climate change… and the economic disaster that would follow. All for short-term economic gain.

Are they pro-life? Only before birth. Do they care about the environment? Not if it costs them money. Are they concerned for their grandchildren’s future?  Not based on their choices.

Because today’s Conservatives show no concern beyond themselves.

To conserve means to save for the future. Which makes it clear these folks aren’t really conservative. So, from now on, we have to use different labels.

“Liberal” is no longer a dirty word. It means giving generously. Which is a concept Jesus promoted.

But “conservative” doesn’t describe today’s political right. They aren’t trying to save for the future. But there is a word that accurately describes these people.

We can still call Liberals “liberal.” And they can hold their heads up, proud to be generous to others. But, from now on, we have to call today’s conservatives what they really are… the Greedies.

Attack of the Climate Change Deniers

More than 9 out of 10 climate scientists agree: Human activity has at least acceleratedclimate change. And those changes are scary. Consider these facts:

  • Bees are rapidly disappearing, at least partly due to climate change. Countless plants depend on bees for pollination – including many crops. If bee numbers drop too low, famine won’t be far behind.
  • Warming Arctic waters have shrunk the extent of pack ice. Arctic seas are also frozen for shorter periods. Polar bears are starving. As apex predators, they reflect the health of their ecosystem. And it’s not looking good.
  • The Colorado River – the source of water for millions – is drying up. Major reservoirs are shrinking. At the same time, the population of the southwest is exploding. This is a recipe for disaster.
  • The latest research shows methane gas emissions – a major by-product of fracking – are much higher than previously thought. Methane is a key contributor to global warming… and far more dangerous than CO2.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration props up the dying coal industry and loosens restrictions on polluters. For Trump and his allies, man’s contribution to climate change is still in question.

At least, as long as the money keeps flowing.

But it’s getting harder to find climate-change deniers… especially outside the U.S.

Not to worry. A pro-Trump think tank has found one. And deniers are calling her “the anti-Greta Thunberg.”

Just 19, But Smarter Than the World’s Scientists

Naomi Seibt is young, blonde, and eloquent. She’s everything the Trump administration hates about Greta Thunberg… except she’s on their side.

Seibt doesn’t deny climate change. Or even that it’s partially man-made. But she doesquestion its effects. According to Seibt, climate change activists are blowing it all out of proportion.

Over 90% of the world’s climate scientists say she’s wrong. But that doesn’t stop Seibt. After all, she’s 19, and has the backing of the Heartland Institute – a pro-Trump think tank. In fact, she’s on their payroll.

As is Trump’s former security advisor, James Taylor. At a climate conference in Madrid, Taylor explained his plan to undercover journalists from CORRECTIV.

“… he intends,” they report, “to make a young YouTuber from Germany the star of climate denier [sic], and how he works closely with German partners whose ideas are consistently cited by the AfD in the Bundestag.” (The AfD is Germany’s ultra-conservative anti-immigrant party.)

That young YouTuber is Seibt.

Seibt denies ties to AfD… but at least one AfD branch claims her as a member. And Heartland’s Taylor says she’ll be working for his think tank to counter Thunberg’s message. In fact, in a phone conversation, Taylor suggests Heartland can control – at least to an extent – what Seibt will say in her videos.

Lo and behold, Heartland now features a speech given at a “Climate Realist Forum” in Madrid… which their site seems to link loosely – and wrongly – to the UN climate forum there. According to CORRECTIV, Seibt’s keynote address was given to a “crowd” of about 20… almost half of whom were speakers at the event.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for her (now paid-for) positions.

The Company You Keep

According to Britain’s Independent, Seibt’s mother, an attorney, has represented AfD members. Some within the AfD also claim Seibt has been a member of their youth branch.

Seibt, a former economics student, says, “… these days, climate change science really isn’t science at all.” She also calls concern over climate change – which she labels “alarmism” – “… a despicably anti-human ideology.”

She has also spoken out against Germany’s liberal immigration policies and feminism. And addressed an AfD gathering at least once.

Seibt also lines herself up against some 97% of qualified climate scientists… and proclaims their work “alarmist” and wrong.

It was probably inevitable climate-change deniers would look for an “anti-Greta.” Thunberg’s message resonates with millions. And she’s spurring people to action.

That’s something Trump’s fossil fuel supporters can’t tolerate. Clean energy – and a healthy environment – will cost them money. And American business is notoriously focused on the short-term.

So, Heartland has hunted down a pretty young thing to counter Thunberg’s message. There’s just one big difference…

Thunberg is right.

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Sources:

Butler, D. and Eilpern, J., “The anti-Greta: A conservative think tank takes on the global phenomenon,” The Washington Post. Feb 23, 2020.

“The Heartland Lobby,” correctiv(dot)com. Feb 11, 2020.

Cockburn, H., “Anti-Greta: Far-right groups trying to turn teenager into climate change-denying version of Greta Thunberg,” The Independent. Feb 24, 2020.