I've written before in this space about 'right greens.' 'Right greens are people who believe the government ought to preserve traditional rights like gun ownership, private property, and use of public spaces.' In the United State these people are often defined as conservatives or libertarians, frequently 'sportsmen' who enjoy nature through hunting, fishing, camping, or ownership of wilderness tracts. I met many of those people doing grassroots organizing on the issue of mercury pollution. They don't often identify themselves as environmentalists, or liberals. These were people who didn't want to hurt businesses or give too much power to the government. They wanted to conserve their right to eat the fish they caught without getting mercury poisoning or causing birth defects in their children.
Right Greens show up pretty clearly in a new survey by American Viewpoint. The poll of hunters and anglers shows that while this group fits certain negative rural stereotypes, they also share crucial green beliefs. According to the poll, seventy four percent of hunters and anglers identify themselves as either republican (37%) or independent (37%). Most (51%) consider themselves conservative. Most (53%) vote in every election.
This conservative, politically involved group is mainly made up of people who hunt and fish (53%), do not have a college degree (62% vocational schooling or less), and do not live in the northeast (33% Midwestern, 41% Southern.)
Hunters and anglers are overwhelmingly white (88%) and nearly half (47%) are evangelical Christians. As white, conservative, less educated, evangelicals this demographic has been targeted by the Republican party in the last decade, to the detriment of the environment. From George W. Bush's folksy accent, religiosity and emphasis on his adopted Texas home to Sarah Palin's mid-western intonation, moose hunting, and church attendance, Republican politicians seek to imitate the hunters and anglers they represent. Too many people try to paint this group as deeply opposed to coastal liberals, who are a diverse group, often consisting of professionals who've attended university. There is a lot more in common between what coastal, Americans and the average hunter or angler.
To begin with, hunters and anglers are a lot greener than Sarah Palin, or the Republican party.
The vast majority of this group (80%) think the United States should "set a goal to achieve 100% of its electricity from clean renewable sources of power within 10 years." These voters are far from '&feature=related">drill baby drill.' This poll is a dramatic endorsement of the green agenda from a major block of voters.
Hunters and anglers are not blinded by a dichotomy between protecting the environment and protecting the U.S. economy. Instead, eighty five percent of them think the U.S. can and should "improve the environment and strengthen the economy by investing in renewable energy technologies that create jobs while reducing global warming." The environment and the economy are not opposed, instead progress in the two depend upon each other.
It's important to note that these polling questions don't just reflect the usual tendency of Americans to express support for the environment in general. Instead, these numbers reflect responses to specific questions about the trade-offs we must make to build a green future.
For example, people were asked to choose whether they thought developing renewable energy resources would benefit the U.S. economy more, or whether developing oil and gas energy resources would be more beneficial. Sarah Palin might be surprised to know that 55% favored renewable development over oil and gas, while only 34% believed increased oil and gas drilling would stimulate our economy more. This support for green energy options over old polluting methods is a sign of how green hunters and anglers are.
The politics of the environment should not be something that divides Americans into regions, or breaks us into groups depending on what we like to do. My greatest environmental teachers have been hunters and fishers, and religion (including Christian evangelicals) endorses, rather than denounces, environmental policies. Green issues should bring Americans together, from all parts of our country and culture. A great example is Richard Cizik, a crucial leader of both the evangelical and green movements. Cizik cites David Brooks, who wrote about "trying to step out of the logic of the culture war" to make progress on issues people agree on.
I don't need a survey to know hunters and anglers support that.