Douthat notices an important wrinkle:
What’s interesting ... is that if you look at public opinion on climate change, the U.S. isn’t actually that much of an outlier among the wealthier Western nations. ... Europe’s political class, left and right alike, has worked to marginalize a position that it considers intellectually disreputable, even as the American G.O.P. has exploited that same position to win votes.
The debate over climate change isn’t unusual in this regard. On issues ranging from the death penalty to (at least until recently) immigration, America’s major political parties generally tend to be more responsive to public opinion, and less constrained by elite sentiment, than their counterparts in Europe. Overall, I much prefer the American approach, populist excesses and all. (It helps in this case, of course, that I’m deeply skeptical about the efficacy of climate change legislation anyway.) But there’s no denying that it's left the G.O.P. on the wrong side and increasingly so of a pretty sturdy scientific consensus.
Ezra Klein largely agrees. Me too. We sure can argue about the best way to tackle the issue, if we can at all. But to deny flatly that it exists is not resisting elitist opinion, it is denying scientific fact. That's not the same dynamic as the death penalty. It's like assuming, oh, I don't know, that the planet was created 6,000 years ago and having your major leaders unable to point out in public that this isn't true. But, hey, it's Ross's party, not mine.
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