Survivor Series

Is Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) the bravest member of the House of Representatives?

That would appear to be the case, since Gibson is going against the GOP grain by declaring that he will soon introduce a resolution declaring that human-caused climate change is real:

A Republican House member is battling the skepticism toward climate-change science that’s common in GOP ranks. And he wants to put lawmakers on record in the process.

Rep. Chris Gibson said Thursday he plans to introduce a resolution on climate change that will help others “recognize the reality” of the situation. Gibson said the extreme weather he has witnessed in his own upstate New York district supports the science, and he wants to be a leader in spurring recognition of changing weather patterns.

“My district has been hit with three 500-year floods in the last several years, so either you believe that we had a one in over 100 million probability that occurred, or you believe as I do that there’s a new normal, and we have changing weather patterns, and we have climate change. This is the science,” said the two-term lawmaker who was reelected in November.

Usually, when a House Republican says that he accepts mainstream science, that Republican is forced into early retirement by wingnut primary voters; just ask ex-Reps. Wayne Gilchrest and Bob Inglis. Will it be deja vu all over again for Gibson, who will now be in the Koch Brothers’ 2016 crosshairs?

Perhaps not. Keep in mind that this year saw two high-profile examples of GOP congressmen who managed to survive well-funded efforts to chase them out of the House. In North Carolina, Walter Jones, an anti-neocon Republican, was targeted for destruction by acolytes of the American military-industrial complex; nevertheless, he held on and managed to survive a May primary. Then, in Michigan, Justin Amash, another anti-neocon Republican, was marked for political death by GOP orthodoxy enforcers; the attempt to annihilate Amash in an August primary also failed.

If Gibson manages to survive a 2016 right-wing primary challenge, it could encourage Republican politicians who know damn well what’s at stake with the climate crisis to actually speak out and agree to push for solutions (such as a gradually rising federal price on carbon, with all collected revenues rebated to the public as a dividend) with a diminished fear of political reprisals. This is something La Kocha Nostra obviously doesn’t want to see, which is why Gibson is in for a series of vicious attacks from the right-wing pundit world. (You may recall the ugly criticism Michelle Malkin heaped upon the eight House Republicans who courageously voted for Waxman-Markey in June 2009; then again, with Malkin, the criticism was ugly before she even said a word.)

As Media Matters noted in 2011, climate change was a bipartisan issue less than a decade ago. Can Gibson bring those days back? We’ll have to wait until 2016 to find out the answer, and we’d like to stick around long enough to pass that answer along.

Gibson’s fight to restore sanity to his party is shaping up to be one of the most fascinating stories of the next two years. Please help us continue our fight to restore sanity to American politics through your tax-deductible donation. We can promise that unlike Rep. Gibson, the Koch Brothers won’t come after you for taking this bold step.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.