Over at The Week, I have a piece lamenting the passing of former Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords. Over the course of his career, Jeffords championed environmental causes, from clean air to protecting federal forest land. He was also at the forefront of calling for the United States to be more aggressive in fighting climate change, making him one of the few Senators to speak so openly about this issue in a bipartisan way:
Over time, the appetite for bipartisan action to fight climate change has similarly waned. In 2012, nearly all the GOP presidential candidates had to distance themselves from their past support for cap-and-trade. A recent Bloomberg feature found wide support for fighting climate change among former Republican congressional members and aides, but a wariness with regard to addressing it publicly, lest activism on the issue invite a strong primary challenge.
Republicans are not alone. Red state Democrats are under pressure to distance themselves from any serious effort to combat climate change. Even California Democrats, in the middle of one of the worst droughts in the state's history, are reluctant to draw a direct link to climate change as they attempt to unseat incumbent Republicans.
It is therefore worth remembering the career of Jeffords, who was not only at the forefront of environmental issues, but represented a more moderate, less polarized mode of politics that was prevalent a mere decade ago.
Read the full article.