Friedrich Neitzche once noted, “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” Well, I’m pleased to report that there are a few youth within the GOP who are thinking differently from their political tribe, and bucking the norm of the party faithful when it comes to the environment.
A handful of 20-something startups have formed a new group called Conservatives for Environmental Reform. Benji Backer, the Founder and President, self-identifies as a conservative activist from Appleton, WI, and is a freshman at the University of Seattle. Benji and eight other politically active colleagues are trying to change the dialogue within their party. I was recently introduced to Matthew Mailloux, CFER’s outreach director by a mutual friend, Eli Lehrer of R Street, who is also moving the needle on intractable environmental issues.
Here is how CFER describes its mission:
We believe the Earth is our greatest gift and provides a limited amount of vital resources. We envision a conservative movement that understands the need to start standing up for environmental reform, before it’s too late. Americans face major environmental issues and we believe conservative, common sense policies can hold the answers to many of them.
As we launch, we will focus on many environmental issues including:
- Water shortages
- Urban/rural farming
- Alternative energies
- State and National Parks, and
- Carbon pricing
Conservatives for Environmental Reform (CFER) is a Political Action Committee (PAC) that identifies, educates, and mobilizes activists to advocate on behalf of a conservative approach to environmental protection and reform. Our objective is to protect conservative values, preserve our beautiful country, resources, and planet, and promote economic success through innovative environmental reform. We intend to accomplish this through encouraging the conversation of environmental reform into legislation at the local, state and federal level.
We believe that bringing people together is the best way to make environmental reform a reality in every governmental sector nationwide. Through education seminars, outreach, and literature, we will aim to further educate Americans on the environmental problems we face. Additionally, we want to change the conservative narrative to a more common sense and productive approach when it comes to environmental reform. Additionally, our activism through membership, local chapters, and grassroots work will make a true difference. Activism will come through conversation and grassroots campaigns with friends, neighbors, and elected leaders to reform our environment.
As a PAC, we will push candidates and policies that push towards our goal of reforming our environmental policies and protecting economic interests at the same time. As conservatives, we believe that business is the backbone of America and that their input in this activism is key to bringing real reform to reality. As Americans, we understand that our children and their children will live in the country that we leave them. It is our responsibility to protect it. By upholding these principles, we intend to work with anyone who has the same outlook and goals.
Politics aside, it’s extremely encouraging to witness the next generation of American conservative leadership embrace the environment as an important issue. My only bit of advice for these obviously bright, thoughtful and energetic professionals is to avoid making their cause purely a political one. In part, it is because the environment has been used by the political Left as a wedge issue that we seem unable to forge commonality to deal with these issues in an open and thoughtful manner. However, it may take these CFER’s to finally persuade their political elders that it’s time to return to the roots of conservatism by living out and through enduring conservative principles.
The future is bright, just keep charging that Hill. CFER’s website includes a “donate” button, so please consider supporting their efforts.