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California’s Green Governor’s Race

For those of you outside the "Golden" (or is it Green?) state, Arnold and his newly nominated Democratic opponent, Phil Angelides, are in an all out sprint to prove who is the Greenest One of All. Arnold’s campaign bus is painted green, and he’s all over T.V. lauding his environmental cred. Phil Angelides and the Dems are still running full throttle to disavow the anti-environmental claims made against him during the primary by opponent and former E-bay executive, Steve Westly.

During the primary, (which Angelides won by a very thin margin) Westly ran ads which played up Angelides as a bald-faced environmental hazard. After all, he has been a dreaded "real-estate developer"--a term that seems to be synonomous with the devil out here in California. Worse, Westly claimed that Angelides had been involved with a project that polluted the hallowed waters of Lake Tahoe. Even though our sainted Senators, Ms. Feinstein and Ms. Boxer, have condemned these claims (as have most of the Democratic hierarchy) they seem to have made a deep impression on environmentalists.

This article from Salon magazine details some of the finer points in this story. But I have some even more interesting anecdotal evidence to suggest that Arnold may not be entirely wrong in playing this hand. Some good friends of mine who are pretty committed Democrats and hard-core environmentalists made the argument at a party yesterday that they could never believe that a "real-estate developer" (and the term was uttered with dripping contempt) was pro-environment. Although they had voted for Schwarzenegger in the recall election, they were deeply disappointed in him because of the budget cuts for education (which were, in fact, just cuts in the rate of growth). So they were pretty torn. They wanted to get a Democrat back in the governor’s chair--but they wondered which candidate (Arnold or Angelides) was the best Democrat. Another couple who are committed Republicans but also strong environmentalists were energized by the Arnold juggernaut and excited that Angelides was the opponent. They readily agreed with my Democrat friends that "real-estate developers" were evil envirnomental degraders.

I thought that was all very interesting in its way. And though I like Lake Tahoe and love Yosemite, I am more interested in allowing off-shore drilling to reduce our dependence on foreign oil so my kids and their kids can live to enjoy those places in freedom. So I had no common ground upon which to enter the discussion with folks who reflexively put "environment" ahead of all other considerations.

As for the campaign, it may, in some small way, help Arnold win re-election, but I don’t think it is good policy to play it up to greens. Further, I don’t think this side-show will slam-dunk the election for either candidate. I still think that what is going to kill Angelides’ efforts in the end are the commercials that Westly ran painting him as an unreformed "tax and spend" liberal. Schwarzenegger ought to play that up big time, and soon. Both liberals (who are regular working folk, and not idealogues) and conservatives have had enough with the taxes out here.

Discussions - 15 Comments

Not only is Angelides an [evil] "real estate developer," but he built a lot of stuff that environmentalists deride as (boo-hiss) "sprawl."

Arnold has betrayed the Republican party in several respects. Environmentalism is not among them, because I don’t regard mild environmentalism as a breach of Republican principles, and I don’t think most California Republicans do.

While I have no use for environmentalist ideologues, running as an environmentalist, even being one, is a relatively benign way for Arnold to bring in more soccer moms. And it might work.

Julie - this is probably a good move for Arnold. I disagree that it sends a bad message for Republicans. On the contrary - I think it is important for elected officials - Republicans and Democrats alike to lead on this issue. If you don’t lead on environmental responsibility, you then lose the message to those that are in the extreme branch of environmentalism.

(Not that I don’t appreciate some of the work and research that those I may think as a bit out of the main stream do... but, it is also important for moderates to show respect for the environment while balancing it with realistic economic policy)

Republicans could really fold environmental responsibility into their overall message of personal responsibility - i.e. take it upon yourself to reduce, reuse, and recycle, pay attention to vehicle purchases, use lawn treatments that are environmentally friendly, conserve natural resources - i.e. fix the leaky faucet, only water your garden in the evening, don’t "sweep your sidewalk" with the garden hose, etc.

Julie - also you and I agree on reducing our dependence on foreign oil to help secure a more hopeful future for our children and grandchildren. But this can be done by looking not only to off-shore drilling but also, renewable energy resources. Wind, Solar, Ethanol, and fuel cells and the like. It must be a comprehensive plan.

I also think we need to secure the future for our children and grandchildren by being good stewards of the envirnoment. Not because I just want them to have a nice vacation to Lake Tahoe, but because negleting the environment leads to pollution and erosion that could also have negative impacts on their health and our country’s food production ability.

One of the radio talk-show hosts, I think it was Hugh Hewitt, asked Ahnold to name one, just one, conservative on his staff. Ahnold couldn’t do it. Look up the word RINO in the dictionary. There’s his picture. In "The Running Man" Schwarzenegger said "I’ll be back" to which Richard Dawson replied "only in the re-runs." Would that it were. Ahnold’s going to be re-elected, but not with my vote.

In my comment #3 - It should have been "I DO appreciate much of their work and research"

I’m baffled by Arnold’s answer to Hugh Hewitt that Uncle Guido mentions in Comment #5 above. His deputy chief of staff, Dan Dunmoyer, is a very solid conservative I have known for many years. There must be others. Arnold must have either blanked or not wanted to answer this question for some odd reason.

Dan Dunmoyer

Never heard of him, until I looked him up here. You’re right, he looks good, as does Fred Aguiar. I still think Schwarzenegger’s a RINO though.

There was no good Democrat running for governor in that primary. I’m glad I don’t live in California . . . well, that’s not true. I guess I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with their politics.

I think Republicans are *more* important to the environmentalism agenda/crowd in the same way that hunters/shooters/trappers are *more* important to the narrower scope of wildlife conservation. Conservatives and most Republicans are generally good stewards of the environment. The tree huggers make all the noise and take all the credit, but it is the true sportsmen that actually provide the funding and do most of the work to make conservation and preservation efforts work. I believe this carries over to things that non-hunters practice.

One example is the widespread trend of demolition/construction reclamation, reuse and recycle practices. There may be an ulterior motive (saving $$) but the result is still beneficial to the green cause. Another is the increase in use of heat reclamation systems in factories that use hot water, steam or other sources of heat in a process. It is becoming more commonplace to recapture some of this heat and reuse it elsewhere in the building, even if its only for wash water in the restrooms.

My point is, resource conservation works; it is the right thing to do; and overall, Republicans do it better than the rest. Why would we want to spend extra money just to degrade the environment? We (or many of us) just do it with an eye on the bottom line, not to feel better for a few minutes while we write a check. Remember, we’re supposed to be the party of capitalism.

Luke, no environmentalist is going to buy what you are saying. The environmentalist is someone who thinks that the environment is a political issue. That is that the environment is an area of human behavior almost always neglected by the market/capitalism or a dollars and cents approach to "efficiency". If the market does anything to take care of these "externalities" then the political capital dries up. So environmentalists are commited to the proposition that externalities will always exist...nothing the market can do will be enough...because obviously if it was then environmentalism would dry up as a political issue. The way they see it, business only does something in order to prevent political action that would be more costly to it. So business tries to deflate the grounds for the environmentalists political arguement...out of base selfishness.

The true environmentalist is always vigilant...always looking for market failure...always looking for a political solution...because he believes that business will only respond to the threat of political action if the threat is credible. So in a sense the environmentalist are crazy(that is commited to the extremes)...because they believe this is the only way to manipulate the selfish calculating minds of business, and thus have any effect. The moment they aknowledge that the idea of economic/market efficiency is alone sufficient to curb and eliminate "externalities" that is the moment they cease being environmentalists. But if the environmentalists aren’t around...then what will provide this inducement to curb externalities(they have already accepted the view that the profit motive is not sufficient, you see)?

I don’t want to put words in Dain’s mouth but I understand him to be working on a similar framework as the environmentalist I describe above. Namely selfishness and the market solution is not sufficient to prevent externalities. Because selfishness is inherently calculative...the threat of political action is necessary in order for the market to regulate itself. Groups of people need to rise up, communities need to mobilize and pressure needs to be put on the market...this needs to happen in order for the "externalities" that arrise from the profit view of effeciency to be reconcilled with what is trully socially efficient.

I can’t necessarily argue against this...except to say that it seems to happen naturally...but if you believe that it happens naturally then the risk is that you won’t rise up to do something yourself...there is always the risk that it won’t happen naturally...namely that as Burke says: The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing...conversely and this is my main beef with environmentalists and other fear-monging political mobilizers, namely: "that the road to hell is paved with good intentions" to the extent this is true, one could just as easily flip Burke on his head and declare without being too flipant: "That the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to try to do something."

you make a great point about the hunters/shooters/trappers and wildlife conservation. You also make a great point about initiatives such as heat reclamation that benefit the bottom line.

There are many Republicans and groups that have a majority of Republican members that have great environmental initiatives. That is why I don’t think Arnold should shy away from a good environmental record - Republicans and Democrats alike should lead on the issue of environmental responsibility, it shouldn’t be partisan.

comment 14 was mine to Luke...

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