The Green Old Party
Religion & Liberty Online

The Green Old Party

A਋it of green conservative politics for your Friday – You’ll see why in a minute.

First, read this blog post by the Sierra Club on Linc Chafee (Republican, RI), and then this:

Meet Wayne Gilchrest, Republican member of the House of Representatives, First Congressional District of Maryland, former house painter, teacher, Vietnam veteran — and past, present and future canoeist who has yet to find himself up that well-known proverbial creek without a paddle, though he must think at times the current and wind is against his flimsy craft. For years, I’ve wondered what the real Wayne Gilchrest was like, this congressman from the Eastern Shore where the words ecology, environment and conservation aren’t spoken much with positive fervor. From what I’ve read, he’s a maverick Republican, doesn’t hesitate to part from the party line; he paddles his own canoe, and sometimes on a collision course with the thinking of many constituents.

But when we lunched, he was unopposed in the primary.

Over at E/E we’ve been chronicling conservative folks of faith as they begin to find momentum in ecology.ꃯforts to get ecology into the pulpits of San Antonioਊre a good example. Apparently this has been going on in conservative political circles as well. 

I recently came across a group called Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP). Jim DiPeso, REP policy director, has a਋log here. After scouring their website, I initially saw a lot of stuff that quite frankly seemed no different that most progressive political groups: global warming, endangered species activism, etc. I wanted to see if they were interested in folks like me (and perhaps you) who were both conservative and faith-filled in their views on these things.

I emailed REP President Martha Marks with these concerns, and she not only assured me that the “tent was big enough for me,” but gave me some names of folks who shared my ecological and faith values. Based on her response I think they’re worth bookmarking, and may be worth considering your membership, for at least three reasons.

First, I’ve become aware over the past several months of some Christian environmental programs in different areas of the country that will take political influence within the Republican party to move them forward. Specifically, there are Republican political actors in decision-making positions that view these Christian conservatives in ecology as sellouts to the green agenda. In terms of rendering to Caeser and honoring those in government appointed over us, we have an obligation to both pray for and influence our elected leadership in a proper way. What could be more appropriate/Biblical?

Second, Republicans need to regain the moral high ground on conservation nationally. Conservation and conservative share the same root for a reason. It seems like it’s been since T.R. (or since Nixon’s signing of EPA and other legislation) that we’ve had an outdoorsman/conservationist in office. Not talking about touchy-feely hug-the-earth sort of ecology here, but credible, effective stewardship and management of our valuable, God-given resources. And even those areas where the current administration is doing good work (Clear Skies is one that comes to mind) the good stuff is overshadowed by our anti-green reputation.

Third, my experience is the vast majority of conservatives, and Americans in general, view conservation as a good thing. The old saws that ecology must come at a price (jobs, taxes, etc) aren’t overcome by ignoring them, but rather by confronting them with green business models and reasonable legislation that balance environmental, human and economic needs. If the GOP wants to survive in the 21st century, it will have to do what the rest of industry (politics, etc) is already doing and green up.

And hey – If you need yet one more reason, how ’bout doing this because liberals absolutely, positively abhor the idea of being co-opted by Republicans on the environment.

The folks at REP say we need to make the GOP the “Green Old Party” once again. 

I like that a lot. 

John Couretas

is a writer and editor based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.