A lot of commentary on the dangers that President Trump poses to the American republic have focused on everything that makes him an extraordinary figure in our politics — his fondness for conspiracy theories, unapologetic contempt for the Fourth Estate, singular incompetence, and unprecedented flouting of norms against leveraging public office for personal profit (to name just a few).
But for all his ignominious idiosyncrasies, it’s quite possible that Trump’s most dangerous quality is one that he shares with virtually every elected Republican — a depraved indifference to the reality of climate change.
This week, Trump offered a potent reminder that his most damaging legacy may be his most conventionally Republican, when he signed an executive order reversing a large swath of the Obama administration’s climate agenda.
A supervisor at the Energy Department’s international climate office told staff this week not to use the phrases “climate change,” “emissions reduction” or “Paris Agreement” in written memos, briefings or other written communication, sources have told POLITICO… At the meeting, senior officials told staff the words would cause a “visceral reaction” with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, his immediate staff, and the cadre of White House advisers at the top of the department.
A DOE spokeswoman denied this report, telling Politico that “No words or phrases have been banned for this office or anyone in the department.” Notably, this statement does not rule out the possibility that workers were discouraged from using certain words or phrases. Regardless, employees at the Office of International Climate and Clean Energy — the only DOE office with the word climate in its name — are understandably anxious that Trump’s “deconstruction of the administrative state” will begin with their corner of it.
As already indicated, if the Trump administration did formally ban the use of the phrase “climate change” by its civil servants, it wouldn’t be acting in an unprecedented fashion. Republican governor Rick Scott reportedly instituted such a policy in Florida. The states truly are laboratories of kakistocracy!
Shortly after last fall’s election, Noam Chomsky offered this reflection on the significance of Trump’s triumph:
On Nov. 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. The outcome placed total control of the government—executive, Congress, the Supreme Court—in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history…The last phrase may seem outlandish, even outrageous. But is it? The facts suggest otherwise. The party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand.
Donald Trump’s presence in the Oval Office is a profound threat to the American republic and global community. But so is the party that put him there.