Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Those environment hatin' conservatives

Via Stephen Bainbridge comes an Opinion Journal piece from Dartmouth professor Jeffrey Hart, author of The American Conservative Mind Today. Hart's critique of contemporary American conservatism sounds like it boils down to an admonishment for its having strayed too far from Burke. I'll leave it to the reader to determine whether or not Hart's criticisms are largely valid. I think, here, though, he's clearly way off base:
Beauty has been clamorously present in the American Conservative Mind through its almost total absence. The tradition of regard for woodland and wildlife was present from the beginnings of the nation and continued through conservative exemplars such as the Republican Theodore Roosevelt, who established the National Parks. Embarrassingly for conservatives (at least one hopes it is embarrassing), stewardship of the environment is now left mostly to liberal Democrats.

I don't think this is accurate at all. I think it probably is accurate to say "high-wattage demagoguing of the environment issue coupled with extremist positions detrimental to the economy is left mostly to liberal Democrats."

I'd be willing to bet conservatives are just as keen on clean water and air for their children as liberals. And I'd bet my last dollar the former actually get out and enjoy the outdoors at least as much as liberals. Personally (to use one current controversy) I'd join my liberal brethren in opposing oil drilling in ANWR if I thought for a second there's a remote chance such activity will spoil this magnificent place. But I don't think this, and I therefore take the pro-energy stance.

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