Who’s Changed?

Lately the Democrats have tried, somewhat weirdly, to adopt Ronald Reagan as one of their own. Reagan, they tell us, couldn’t get nominated by today’s “right wing” Republican Party. The idea that contemporary Republicans are radical is one that the Democrats push at every opportunity; for example, in a fundraising email that DNC Executive Director Patrick Gaspard sent out on Earth Day:

In the 1970s, the President passed [sic] the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and created the Environmental Protection Agency. His name was Richard Nixon.

Environmental policy hasn’t always been a partisan issue — but it sure is now.

President Obama has made historic investments in building a clean energy economy, creating jobs, and boosting our use of clean, renewable energy. … Right now, there’s only one party proudly working to protect the environment — and that’s the Democrats.

But is it Republicans who have changed on the environment, or Democrats? What Republicans are advocating repeal of the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act? None. What Republicans do object to is the extremism embodied in Barack Obama’s EPA, a senior official of which says that the agency’s “general philosophy” is to “crucify” oil and gas companies. I don’t know about you, but the oil companies have done a heck of a lot more for me than the Democratic Party has. Then we have the Obama administration’s war on coal, which is beginning to shut down coal-fired power plants across the country, even as the Obama administration wastes tens of billions on hare-brained “green energy” schemes that enrich Obama cronies but do little or nothing to create either energy or jobs. These anti-energy initiatives are a key reason why the American people now think less of the federal government than at any time since the Clinton administration.

Ronald Reagan used to say that he didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him. And that was decades before the Democrats set out to run America’s most useful and productive industries out of business. Nowadays, the Democrats haven’t just left Ronald Reagan, they’ve left Joe Manchin. Richard Nixon was never a Democrat as far as I know, but no doubt he would be just as astonished as Reagan to be held up by today’s Democrats as an exemplar of a “good” Republican. What is actually going on these days is that the Democrats are carrying out an environmental program that is essentially anti-American, while the Republicans are staying true to their rationally environmentalist heritage. On the environment, as on other issues, it is the Democrats who have moved left, not the Republicans who have moved right.