When Does It Become Too Much for People?

Are there any embarrassed Republicans in your social circle?

You know, people who became Republicans because they liked Ronald Reagan. Or they disagreed with Roe v. Wade. Or they’re really into the Second Amendment. Or their parents were Republicans.

They know the GOP has become unhinged over the years. They know that the Tea tasted bitter. They know that Donald Trump isn’t even fit to run his mouth, let alone the country. They know that the Koch Brothers only care about themselves, not others. They know how far to the right the Republican Party has moved over the years.

Yet they can’t seem to break away. What do you say to them? How do you get them to wake up? Or will they just have to wake themselves up?

I had a brief glimpse of hope when I heard about Fox personality Julie Banderas defending marriage equality. I figured that people who would never listen to Chris Hayes or Rachel Maddow might listen to her, might be moved and changed by her. Maybe Banderas’s words would be powerful enough to make Fox’s audience think twice about right-wing homophobia, and finally walk away from the folks who have profited from such homophobia.

Attorney and blogger Seth Jaffe argues that a “Julie Banderas moment” could also happen on climate change:

While same-sex marriage has always been, on both sides, primarily a moral issue, it would be wrong to ignore the role that an increasing understanding of the genetics of sexual preference has played in the debate. Similarly, the move towards an overwhelming weight of evidence, not just that climate change is occurring, but that it is anthropogenic, has obviously been important to the climate change debate.

Finally, while the moral issues in same sex marriage may seem to distinguish it from the climate issue, the recent papal encyclical makes clear that there are moral aspects to the climate change debate as well.

I have no crystal ball. I do not know whether we are going to see a groundswell, and then, perhaps, a tidal wave that will somehow overcome the gridlock in United States and world politics on climate change. There are differences in the two issues, most obviously in the short-run economic costs of addressing climate change. Nonetheless, I do know that it wouldn’t surprise me if the tidal wave comes, and relatively soon.

Are the issues of LGBT civil rights and climate change potent enough to get Republicans who know how profoundly wrong their party’s leaders are on these matters (and others) to finally reconsider their allegiance to the GOP? We all remember the “Obamacans” of 2008. It remains to be seen if any “Hillarycans” or “Berniecans” join them in 2016.

UPDATE: Could the revelation that the fossil fuel industry knew about, and hid from the public, the risks of human-caused climate change for nearly thirty-five years motivate some Republicans to rethink their ties to the “Gas and Oil Party” (as Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey once called the GOP?) More from The Guardian, Climate Progress, the Young Turks and InsideClimate News. Plus, more on Sanders vs. Clinton from Ed Kilgore and Martin Longman.

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.