The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
The November elections highlighted the extreme political division in our nation, sparked violence, and left many Americans wondering – is there anything we can agree on? Moving forward a central challenge for conservatives and public policy leaders on both sides of the aisle should be identifying issues that have strong support from voters across the political spectrum.
Clean energy represents a rare opportunity to identify common sense policy and find common ground politically. Recent post-election polling data in Wisconsin makes this clear. 82% of Wisconsin voters are in favor of cutting regulations and red tape that slow the development of clean energy sources. 75% of voters would be more favorable toward Republican candidates if they favored innovation and market policies that embrace clean energy sources. 70% of voters are more likely to support a candidate that supports development of renewable resources in Wisconsin.
Voters right, left, and center are saying loudly that they want more clean energy in Wisconsin and are offering our leaders an opportunity. In a time of deep political division, energy policy is one of the few issues that presents room for cooperation. Conservative policymakers cannot miss the chance to appeal to moderate and swing voters by working to guide Wisconsin’s transition to renewable energy.
Pro-renewable energy policy has the ability to attract and engage voters across the political spectrum. Chase Binnie, Republican candidate for Wisconsin’s 80th Assembly District, experienced this appeal firsthand while campaigning. “I met a gentleman on doors in Mt Horeb,” Chase said. “When I knocked on his door to ask for his vote, he was standoffish. But when I mentioned my views on environmental stewardship, he opened up to me and gave me a tour of his property, including his chicken coop, his cattle, and his solar panels. Even though he was not pleased with the actions of either political party, we found a lot of common ground in our views on life, community, and conservation.”
Responsible and conservative integration of new technologies can benefit ratepayers across the state while moving us toward cleaner, cheaper, more reliable energy. Conservatives need to embrace renewable energy, embrace free-market policies that leverage a transition to these sources, and embrace innovation. Voters are paying attention to this issue. As we move on from the 2020 elections, conservatives need to look forward and lead.
–Scott Coenen is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a voice for conservatives in the state’s energy policy debate.