Pittsburg, PA. The most fun part of EnCourage Pittsburgh was the comedy routine of our friend Yoram Bauman, the world’s first “stand-up economist” and former director of the Carbon Washington campaign for a revenue-neutral carbon tax in Washington State. Between pretty funny lines that he admits are mostly funny to economists, Yoram made some very serious points about lessons learned in the Washington State carbon tax initiative.
The part that wasn’t funny was the young conservative activist, an upperclassman at U Pitt, telling me that the club he represented had grown with freshmen who are “way out there.” What did he mean by “way out there?” I asked him. “Oh, they’re into the alt-right and stuff like that,” he said. “And they see Donald Trump as a role model.”
OK, so I was jarred. Is Pittsburgh the city of the future with self-driving cars at Carnegie Melon or the city of the past with stuff belching out of smokestacks? I suppose the truth is that it’s both. There are people who fantasize about some mythical good old days until they see themselves in the great new days. Our job at republicEn.org is to help our tribe know that they’ll be welcomed and valued in the great new days, that there’s a place for them, that their contributions will be honored.
The encounter reminded me of the need to speak directly to our tribe. When you’re asking your own to see their brighter future, you need to have the first conversations in the security of the family. Yes, ultimately we believe that, together, we can America together to lead the world to solutions on climate change. But first, we must help our own tribe to gain a confident entree into the climate conversation.
Many thanks to U Pitt Professor Gordon Mitchel and to the students from the co-hosting organizations, including Pitt Republicans, Pitt Libertarians, Pitt Vets, Black Action Society, the Elise Hillman Civic Forum and the Climate Stewardship Society, all of whom spoke eloquently from their group’s perspective.
Executive Director - republicEn