The Seattle Times reports that Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA) is running for president. His campaign will have a focused message that he’s the only candidate who would make defeating climate change the nation’s top priority. Can a candidate win the presidency solely on the climate change issue?
Turns out that with all of the issues that are facing our country, voters don’t view climate change as very important. According to this column by Robert Samuelson in the Investor’s Business Daily, polling showed that while many do consider climate change an important issue in isolation, it is not as important in comparison with other national issues.
Samuelson reports that Pew conducted a poll in 2018, asking about the importance of 19 public policy priorities. Dealing with Climate Change ranked next to last. Fighting terrorism and improving schools were ranked 1 and 2. What the poll suggests is that “Americans want government to do almost everything, from fighting terrorism to strengthening the economy to helping the poor … and on and on.”
The reality is that government can’t do everything for everybody. Practical politicians judge where public pressure demands action — and where it can be minimized or ignored. Combating global warming seems to be in a gray area. It bothers more and more people, but it hasn’t reached a critical mass of public opinion that would compel Congress and the White House to act decisively.
For a one-issue candidate with climate change as the one issue, success doesn’t seem very likely.