Waiting for solutions...

almost 4 years ago

At the first Republican debate, or as it were, the event held earlier in the evening for the so-called underdog candidates, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said with regard to climate change, "when I get on stage with Hillary Clinton, we won't be debating about the science, we'll be debating about the solutions."

In a field that once held 17 hopefuls vying for the Republican nomination, Graham, who has since dropped out of the race, was the only candidate who directly suggested the focus shift away from debating the validity of the science and move toward identifying a set of business-friendly solutions conservatives can support.

We need more conservatives who think like him.

Gov. Chris Christie has come close. In the late October debate, he highlighted his opposition to President Obama's regulatory approach to reducing carbon emissions and suggested the private sector should invest in "all types of energy" while highlighting that his administration in New Jersey "worked with the private sector to make solar affordable and available to businesses and individuals in our state."

But overall, the remaining field of candidates has been light on detailing their respective approaches, heavy on criticizing the status quo.

This week, Americans tuning in will hear from the President as he delivers his last State of the Union address tonight and the Republican candidates on Thursday as they take the stage for the next debate. Both events provide opportunities for the remaining candidates to highlight where their visions differ from the current Administration, the likely Democratic nominee, and each other. But rather than spending airtime attacking the policies and approaches the candidates oppose, it would be refreshing to hear what specific actions they support.

Why is granularity important? Distinctions are critical, particularly in a crowded primary where there is a natural tendency to run to the fringes. Most general election voters —many of them new voters— hover in the space spanning from the left to the right of center. Their support is up for grabs, but they have to hear a comprehensive climate message.

Climate change has economic, environmental and national security ramifications. A variety of solutions exist that span the political spectrum. It would be a missed opportunity to cede this issue to the left. Whether the candidates are rebutting the State of the Union or making a primetime case for the presidency, it would be refreshing to hear them present a complete picture of their distinct climate and clean energy agenda. In other words, tell us what you're for, not just what you're against.