Policy: Environment & Energy

Ron Arnold: Where is Big Green going in 2013?

By |
Opinion,Ron Arnold,Columnists,Energy and Environment

Environmentalism is an affluent, urban, white movement. As a result, the few rural residents and minorities in the fold become political poster children.

Eco-activist Barbara Dudley, a former philanthropy executive, told a 1992 meeting of the Environmental Grantmakers Association that the environmental movement was "an upper-class conservation, white movement. We have to face that fact. It's true."

She was being so straightforward with her foundation colleagues because the emerging "wise use" movement -- a loose alliance of property rights advocates and resource industry workers -- was bleeding under foundation-funded green group assaults and complaining loudly. Some response was necessary, but the EGA gathering of executives from wealthy foundations didn't know what. Dudley admitted, "They're not wrong that we are rich and, you know, they are up against us. We are the enemy as long as we behave in that fashion."

Another eco-activist, Deb Callahan, then also a foundation wonk, told the gathering about resource workers who confronted her. "They were saying, 'Hey, because of the work that you've been engaged in, we're hurting, we're losing our jobs, and it's not right.' And how do you say to somebody, 'No, I don't want you to have your job.' ... And the minute the wise use people capture that high ground, we almost have not got a winning message left in, in our quiver."

They worried about their message; no respect for real people, no kindness, only capturing high ground to wreck more lives for the sake of eco-ideology. They were a movement on the way to becoming Big Green.

That was 20 years ago. Today, the nation's population is changing in their favor, and environmentalism's affluent, urban, white constituency is no longer an embarrassment, but is growing into the movement's Hammer of Doom.

A month ago, the Pew Research Center released a social and demographic report headlined "U.S. Birth Rate Falls to a Record Low." America is becoming a nation of singles. That's alarming enough since study after study has shown that married people are happier, wealthier, healthier -- and more responsible -- than their single counterparts. But the political fallout is incredible. The nonmarried turn out to be dominantly affluent, urban -- and liberal-voting -- white people.

Political consultants James Carville and Stanley Greenberg found that of the 111 million single eligible voters, 58 million are men and 53 million are women. Almost three-quarters of all single women are white, and only 9.7 million are black, with 5.7 million Hispanics.

Exit polls found that among nonmarried voters, Obama beat Romney 62-35, but marrieds went for Romney 56-42. It gets worse: Carville and Greenberg found that between the 2008 election and this year's, the nonmarried share of the total vote increased by "a whopping 6 percentage points," which meant 7.6 million more single voters than in 2008. That gave Obama a margin of 2.9 million votes, about two-thirds of his margin of victory, they said.

Marriage is what made America so successful. And it's declining.

In August, Princeton professor Robert P. George told an audience in Sydney, "I would warn that limited government -- considered as an ideal as vital to business as to the family -- cannot be maintained where the marriage culture collapses and families fail to form or easily dissolve."

When that happens, George said, "the effective transmission of the virtues of honesty, civility, self-restraint, concern for the welfare of others, justice, compassion and personal responsibility is imperiled.

"Where these things happen, the health, education and welfare functions of the family will have to be undertaken by someone, or some institution, and that will sooner or later be the government."

But government won't transmit compassion for property rights or resource workers. Can that do anything but benefit an affluent, urban, white Big Green?

Examiner Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

View article comments Leave a comment