Posted by: ericgrimsrud | March 11, 2016

An up-side to a Trump Presidency

In a previous post (July 2015), I provided my opinion concerning the relative merits of the two leading Democratic candidates for the Presidency, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, concerning the urgency of addressing the world’s greatest problem – climate change. In that comparison, I gave Bernie Sanders the nod and still do.  No other Presidential candidate understands the full gravity of this issue as much as Bernie does.  Since then, I have also carefully watched the Republican race in order to gauge the potential winner’s views on this issue and now that it seems very likely that Donald Trump will be that person, I will provide my assessment here of what we might expect from him if he makes it all the way to the White House.

Of all of the Republican candidates, it is most difficult to guess what Trump would do about climate change if elected. This is partially because the leadership of GOP has been AWOL on this topic over the last two decades and has put no pressure on its candidates to take the issue seriously. And even if the GOP had recommended some specific actions or non-actions on climate change, it is unlikely that Donald would pay much attention to them. The Donald has found great success in being a very loose cannon within the GOP and to the consternation of his party’s leaders has shown that he can take whatever view he wishes on all topics.  In short, the Donald has become bigger than the GOP itself.  Concerning the single issue of climate change, this could be a good thing since the GOP has done its very best to obstruct all actions concerning it.

So what would a President Trump decide to do, if anything, in order to address the problem of climate change? On one level Trump does not appear to be the socially conscientious and responsible type that we might think is needed for this task. He seems to be the very opposite of former President Carter, for example, who has devoted his life to the development of sustainable lifestyles throughout the world. On the other hand, Trump will not have his hands tied by a GOP establishment that has shown itself to be scientifically backwards on this issue.  I don’t believe that Trump is as dismissive of science and he very possibly might begin to see the magnitude and urgency of the problem more clearly than the GOP has. And Trump does not want the USA to be a loser if alternate means of energy production appear to be overtaking the old-fashioned methods.

In addition, Trump is not so heavily indebted to the fossil fuel industries for past donations as the GOP and other Republican candidates are. Also he is not wedded to any of the religious or political ideologies that render large portions of many Republican brains inoperative.  It is possible that he might even harbor a high level of respect for our scientific communities and be able and interested in learning a great deal of the associated science himself.  Thus, a President Trump might conceivably decide to do some good things even if doing so constitutes an about-face relative to previous GOP “leadership” on this issue.

So if the Donald does win the Presidency this year, I would cross my fingers and hope that he turns out to be very much better than his party has been. While Trump owes the GOP brand very little, he might be induced to help it enter the 21st Century with respect to modern science and environmental realities.  At the very least, we could be thankful that none of the other thoroughly fossilized brains of the GOP establishment made it into the White House.  It is very difficult, if not impossible, to change the minds of religious or political ideologues. Thus, while I do not want to be accused of being an avid Trump supporter, I am sure that his main competitors on the Republican side, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and would be much worse – worse than useless, in fact,  in a fight against climate change.  So if it comes to this, cross your fingers and pray for help from the Republican side.  A loose cannon would provide better odds for action than a GOP-controlled President.

And if Donald Trump or even another Republican does happen to win the presidency next November, I would then urge Democrats to not declare that their most important objective would then be that the new and fairly elected President be a one-term president – as the Republicans did when losing in 2008. We have too many substantial issues on the table as to allow ourselves to focus on trivial if not treasonous ones.


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