The Next Conservative Wave: Greener

Arthur Bruzzone

November 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, Ca -- Modern Conservatism will survive.  But it must be now include environmentally sound principles and policies.

Conservatism maintains traditions, rejects radicalism, and relies on reason not jingoism. It is not a stagnant body of truths.   While conservatives look to traditions to confront the problems of the present and future, we must guard against framing all contemporary challenges based solely on past solutions and answers.  Most importantly, reason -- both critical thinking and empirical science - must continue to ground our prescriptions.

All segments of the American conservative movement have a stake in its revitalization.  During this post-election period of self-reflection, advocates for life, for strong defense policy, for fiscal integrity, and for free market entreprenuralism, all must look inward and outward and recognize that America's sustainability depends in scientifically sound protection of the planet.  There are inherent benefits.  To start, the U.S. must end its dependence on oil.

Strong defense policy.  We can no longer be petroleum addicts and rely on oil cartels for our economic and military strength. The Middle East is our current concern because of its oil resources.  Our policy of protecting the state of Israel doesn't require military action in the Middle East.  Future dangers to this country will come from China and the impending crisis over Taiwan.  Terrorists without borders will remain our other main focus. But terrorism will not be defeated by World War II desert blitzes.  A sound long-term military and foreign policy demands that we be strong advocates for alternative fuels to break our dependence on Middle East oil.

Second, the protection of life at birth must be matched with protection of the planet for the child after birth.  Pro-life advocates' deep concerns have been to protect human life through the birth cycle.  The focus must now include the planet which the newborn child will inhabit.  Perhaps this is why a poll released in February 2006 showed 70 percent of American evangelical Christians see global warming as a "serious threat" to the future of the planet.

Third, fiscal conservatism.   Expansionary government means a government demanding more of the nation's wealth through burdening tax collections. There's urgency here. The aging of America will mean that social security and health care, like two silent volcanoes, will explode simultaneously. Despite President Bush's efforts, most lawmakers, especially congressional representatives, refuse to confront this reality.  Government must focus on what's necessary, not what's desirable. In just a few years, oil-based military incursions at $2 billion a day will seem like drunken excess.

Finally, the move towards alternative fuels and environmental cleanup is potentially a trillion dollar industry.  China sees this business opportunity and has launched research and testing. Global warming, whether natural or human-made, will ignite economic opportunities in nanotechnology, renewable energies, and biofuel technology. This country's industry, entrepreneurs, students and research institutions must be at the forefront of this revolution.  It's already begun in the U.S.  Venture capitalists have invested $958 million in energy-related companies during the first half of 2006, according to Cleantech Venture Network, a consortium that tracks green investing. That's roughly 30 percent more than the amount invested in the sector for all of 2005 and nearly double the $542 million tallied in 2004.

In conclusion, so long as our science is sound, and our approach is reasoned, conservatives can integrate environmental issues with the tested ideas and prescriptions  that have dominated the recent American political landscape.  Democrats have failed to upgrade 'liberalism' to make it relevant to contemporary challenges.  As a result, the term 'liberalism' has come to have a convenient pejorative reference.  We cannot allow 'conservatism' to suffer the same fate.

During a troubled time for this country, an American president, a Republican president initiated one of the first conservation projects in our history - protection of the giant sequoias in Yosemite Park.  That president was not Teddy Roosevelt.  It was Abraham Lincoln. Even during our tumultuous Civil War, President Lincoln knew saving the Union and protecting the environment were not mutually exclusive.

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