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Enter MAGA Environmentalism: To Save America this Election, No Issue is Off-Limits

It’s almost a cliché at this point to say that this election is more important than all the ones who came before it, but this one does feel unique. Even President Trump recently stated that if he doesn’t win, he doesn’t think the country will survive. So why are Republicans running for office still trotting out the same, tired ideas? If the nation is truly on the line, we should be doing everything imaginable to turn out the conservative base and win over as many undecided voters as possible. In this election, taking the America First trade agenda and applying it to the environment is one idea so crazy it might work.

We should look to the Trump 2016 strategy as a model: no issue is off-limits, and no orthodoxy goes unchallenged. Traditional Republicans were so turned off by the alternative in Hillary Clinton that it was virtually guaranteed that Trump had their support. Now, in 2024, we have a similar situation as Biden continues to score record levels of unpopularity. However, the MAGA coalition from 2016 should not be seen as guaranteed to return in full force for down-ballot Republicans. They must go all-in on the rejection of the old-school GOP, continuing the tough-on-China trade policies designed to bring jobs home for the working-class folks who built the America First movement.

But if this election is truly as pivotal as it seems, we cannot stop there. 2016 was still far too close for comfort, and with many states having questionable election rules and processes, we need to win so convincingly that no “irregularities” can take it away from us. This is where the America First agenda on the environment comes in.

It is no secret that swing voters are often concerned that the GOP won’t prioritize the environment and will let big polluters off the hook. While voters trust Republicans more on the economy by 21 points, the party lags behind Democrats on dealing with the environment. We can flip the script and take that worry away with one word: China.

If we are talking about holding polluters accountable, we should start with the largest polluter on Earth, whose manufacturers produce three times as much pollution as American ones. To put things in perspective, In 2022, global emissions were 37.15 billion metric tons. That same year, coal use in China released 8.25 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. So, China’s fleet of approximately 1,042 coal plants alone generated 22.21% of global emissions in 2022. It’s patently insane that the Left focuses on bashing American industry while letting China off the hook entirely on the environment, and voters can see that clearly. By making this case, we can leverage voters’ trust of Republicans on economic issues by making the case that this approach grows our economy and creates jobs.

It is the perfect opportunity: tie one of the MAGA coalition’s highest priorities, addressing China’s cheating on trade, and add in the significant number of people who are fed up with the failing Biden administration but have hesitations about GOP leadership. Plus, if Republicans stop being afraid to talk about the environment, they can easily point out just how disastrous Biden’s “green” agenda has been, leading to higher energy costs and worsening inflation.

The opportunity for all of this comes at exactly the right time, too. Republicans in Congress recently introduced the PROVE IT Act, which would provide data showing just how much dirtier production from our competitors abroad is. It then went on to pass through committee in the Senate with overwhelming support, showing this isn’t some campaign-season messaging bill. Congressional Republicans are telling the CCP that they mean business and saying to the American people that the GOP will protect American jobs and the environment.

If the GOP is going to take back the Senate and expand the House majority, Republicans cannot run scared and must embrace a spirit of boldness. Biden and the Democrats may be deeply unpopular now, but voters are notoriously fickle. These kinds of low-risk, high-reward creative strategies are exactly what will be needed this November in what might be the most tightly-contested race in history. The stakes are too high to not try, and failure is unacceptable for the future of our nation.

Saul Anuzis is President of the 60 Plus Association.

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Notable Replies

  1. The most important issue is that CO2 is not a pollutant. That appears to be off limits.

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