The fossil fuel industry has noticed that each of the major Democratic presidential candidates have identified combating climate change as a top priority, and are none too happy about it. Republicans are happy about it, according to Politico, at least if quoted Republican strategist Ford O'Connell can be believed. “The deeper and the longer the Democrats talk about this, the happier the Trump campaign is,” he claimed. That’s because he thinks Trump can attack Democrats for their proposals. Nothing more.
We already have the outlines of how the 2020 campaign between Democrats and Republicans will shape up, and they are not likely to change. Democrats will push for attempts to save the U.S. climate, as numerous regions of the country already soar past the 2 degree Celsius warming mark, already changing weather patterns and threatening landscapes in the Northeastern states. This is happening as affected states scramble to block rollbacks of current fossil fuel restrictions from Trump's band of arsonists.
And while Democrats are presenting their plans, pushing for new government programs to turn America's slumping manufacturing sector into the world's top provider of new green technologies and threatening legal consequences for fossil fuel companies that have long attempted to block the public from learning the long-known environmental costs of their products, Republicans will sell Donald Trump-branded plastic drinking straws. They’ll also claim on television that Democrats will be "banning cows," and base entire campaigns on a sneering, trolling mockery of the notion that any true American should give a damn about what happens to states like New Jersey.
That's what strategist O'Connell is hinting at, and he needn't bother. Responding to each crucial issue of the day with the political equivalent of troll posting is now what Republicanism does. The party has been Fox News'ed into the sort of smug, sneering drollery that soils the Fox & Friends couch each morning. Can you name a single issue, aside from tax cuts, on which the Republican stance is anything but "we are for whatever you are against, and you are a socialist for even complaining about it."
There's not going to be a Republican counterproposal to prevent climate change. It's not going to happen, not because Republicans do not believe it is happening but because the party no longer has the intellectual heft to put out anything not premised on reflexive opposition to non-movement members.
We're instead going to get Fox News-pushed conspiracy theories from the beginning of the campaign to the end. We’re going to get an insistence that the Green New Deal will mean armed troops invading American burger restaurants, and Republican rank-and-filers pouring gasoline on the ground and lighting the puddles just to "own the libs."
This will be coupled with—in other words, paid for—by each of the fossil fuel companies currently in the climate crosshairs. It will be aggressive, it will be expensive, and above all it will be mean, through and through. Those that push for climate action—even as the effects become dramatic, in some states—will be declared to be conspirators, or in league with "globalists," or effeminate, or take-your-pick. The battle to save American landscapes from permanent and catastrophic change will be based not on policy or on science, but will be a nightly battle between your local weather report and a sneering Tucker Carlson.