Green Day: Part I

Look, I think it’s great whenever a wealthy Republican decides to use his resources to defend the planet instead of destroying it. However, could those wealthy Republicans spend their money on something besides advertising campaigns?

A Republican entrepreneur is putting a whopping $175 million behind a campaign whose message will have some party stalwarts seeing red: The GOP needs to deal with climate change.

North Carolina businessman Jay Faison will launch a social media and online advertising blitz, backed by state and national digital advocacy efforts and a series of strategic grants, as part of a $165 million campaign run through the ClearPath Foundation. The aim is to get the Republican Party to shift its skeptical view of climate change and green energy, topics that usually fall to the bottom of its list of priorities when they don’t generate outright opposition among conservative voters.

In addition to his public education effort, Faison is putting an additional $10 million of his money into a separate political advocacy operation, using the same nonprofit tax status designation as groups like President Barack Obama’s Organizing for Action, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and several tea party groups. He will also try to attract additional outside funds for that operation…

“I always felt a little alone out there as a Republican, and so I started ClearPath to create a dialogue around this in a way that hadn’t been done before and sort of be part of the solution,” Faison said in an interview, adding he’d like to see the party’s candidates debate the solutions to climate change, not the science. “We think that there are real Republican solutions to the problem.”

All well and good. However, the Koch Mafia is planning to spend nearly $900 million on the 2016 elections, and presumably some of that money will be spent on financing right-wing primary challenges to the handful of Republicans in the House and Senate who are courageous enough to say that human-caused climate change is real (such as Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida). If you’re a Republican tycoon who recognizes that your money will be worthless in a climate-chaotic world, wouldn’t it make more sense to try to prevent like-minded Republicans from being politically pulverized by polluters?

In order to have federal carbon-pricing legislation passed, you’ll need to have some Republicans come along to make up for the Democrats from dirty-energy states who would be unlikely to vote for such legislation (recall the 44 Democrats who voted against the Waxman-Markey bill six years ago). Faison might want to consider abandoning the ads and placing his full focus on making sure there are enough non-wingnut House and Senate Republicans around to vote with Democrats on legislation to curb carbon pollution the next time such legislation has a chance to come up for a vote.

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.