Reconciling the Environment and the GOP

By Bryant Lewis

As an environmental management major, I'm often questioned as to how I can be both a Republican and someone interested and/or concerned about the environment. Let's take a sample conversation:

Person A: So you're an environmental guy, eh?
Myself: Well, that's my major.
Person A: So you must be really into saving the earth!
Myself: Well, that's a concern, but not my...
Person A: You must be a big liberal!
Myself: Well, not exactly...
Person A: You are a Democrat, right?
Myself: I don't think so...
Person A: You're not a REPUBLICAN, are you?
Myself: Well, actually I am.
Person A: How can you mistreat the earth like that?
Myself: That isn't what I...
Person A: I can't believe it!

The answer here, if I could have finished my conversation, would be the obvious: I am not a one issue voter. I have great concern for the environment and don't always feel as if conservatives in general give the environment as much attention as it deserves. But, when you weigh the positives of the GOP versus the negatives, there is no comparison between the two parties. The GOP offers a clear agenda of lower taxes, individual responsibility, and less government intrusion. I don't think that this agenda conflicts with being concerned for the environment at all.

My philosophy about the environment is that education is the key. Neither the extreme anti or pro-environment activists are always right. I firmly believe that once individual citizens are presented with unadulterated facts about the environment that public opinion will begin to favor pro-environment policies (even amongst conservatives). Please note that not all pro-environment policies are liberal or "wacko"!

I do not believe that government should be telling people how to use their land (that is, unless their actions greatly endanger public health or safety). The key here is that once the landowner realizes, through public education, that one of his practices may be detrimental to the earth, he will change because he will know it is in his best benefit to do so. In fact, I believe that the parental attitude the government takes toward instructing landowners what to do serves mainly to anger landowners and does not help the overall perception of those concerned for our environment.

So, next time you encounter someone who is both conservative like yourself but concerned for our environment, don't be so surprised. We do exist. And, with a little thought, you just may discover that the ideas don't conflict as much as you might think.

Eric Seymour

Robert Schiener

Joel Corbin

Bryant Lewis

Rush Reagan