Political advertising, particularly advertising during the primary season, is probably a pretty good indicator of the issues that the politicians think will motivate their base. Bearing in mind that the primaries are elections contested within a political party, in this day and time you can rest assured that every politician who has enough money to do so has hired a polling company to determine which issues are important to voters in their party. Based on that polling, consultants will decide which issues are mentioned, what candidates will say about the issues and exactly how they will say it. It’s really not much different than selling soap or toothpaste, but that’s where we are in politics today. If you want to win, you better be able to tell voters what they want to hear in the precise language they expect to hear it. At times it seems like it is a contest to see who can read the same script the best.
Because of where we live, we don’t often see political advertisements for Democrats unless the ads are part of a campaign for a national office. It is possible, however, to watch political advertising by Republican party candidates and see what issues they and their consultants think will motivate their voters. We also had a chance to watch a televised candidate forum for those seeking to be our next U.S. Representative.
As I interpret what Republicans see as the issues, they are, in no particular order:
2. Conservatism (whatever that general term encompasses);
5. Fear of socialism and liberalism;
6. Conservative judges;
7. Donald Trump; and
8. Repeal of Obamacare and returning healthcare to “free market principles”.
To my way of thinking, conspicuously absent from all of the advertising is any mention of global warming.
I know that political advertisements are just 30 seconds, so it is hard to say everything you might want to say, but there seems to be an unspoken understanding among Republicans that global warming won’t be mentioned. It’s as if to mention global warming is heretical to the Republican canon. This is dangerous.
Recently, the Bank for International Settlements, an umbrella organization for the world’s central banks, issued a comprehensive report which warns the central banks that they don’t have the tools necessary to deal with what could be one of the biggest economic dislocations of all time, i.e., the consequences of the disruptive effects of climate change. According to the report, “Climate change poses unprecedented challenges to human societies, and our community of central banks and supervisors cannot consider itself immune to the risks ahead of us…In the worst case scenario, central banks may have to intervene as climate rescuers of last resort or as some sort of collective insurer for climate damages.”
For more about this report, read the story by Jack Ewing in The New York Times Business section of January 24, 2020.
Considering the risks and what’s at stake, how can any candidate fail to talk about global warming?
I suppose they are just following Trump’s lead. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week Trump said in a speech that climate activists were “heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.” “They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, a mass starvation in the 1970s, and an end of oil in the 1990s.” “This is not a time for pessimism.”