How Devin Nunes shortchanges his constituents.

Representative Devin Nunes is a stalwart change denier, calling global warming “nonsense“.  He jokes about the dangers that climate change poses to Californians in a blog post today.

This poses two problems.  One is that he is asking his fellow ideologues to join him in a joke that denies their own lived experiences.  Perhaps Nunes has been in DC so long that he doesn’t know how the southern San Joaquin Valley is changing.  But the people who live there can see and feel the effects of climate change.  It isn’t a snide joke to them.

Things that people in CA22 have seen and experienced in the past few years:

What Devin Nunes’ post shows today is that he isn’t paying close attention to his district.  He has grouped “radical environmentalist” and “climate change” into one category and now uses any hint of one or the other to dismiss an entire field of conversation.  But people in his district are feeling real and varied effects of climate change, no matter who they vote for.  But rather than looking at the facts of his constituents’ lives, and listening to them, Nunes writes mocking posts.  This has three effects:

First, it gaslights the people who live in the district, denying their lived experience.  They know damn well the summer nights aren’t cooling off and they aren’t getting enough chilling hours in the winter.  They can see the dead trees in their beautiful mountains.  They aren’t blind, or stupid, but Nunes’ is saying that this collection of experiences is literally nonsense.  That it isn’t happening.

Second, Nunes is denying his constituents their intellectual understanding of what is happening to them.  Some of his constituents know this.  But the implicit trade-off that Nunes is offering his constituents is that they must not understand the things they experience, the change to the Valley that is happening before their eyes, if they want to be part of the conservative Valley identity.  He justifies and personifies an ignorance that means his constituents can’t predict and prepare themselves for a harsher future.  If climate change isn’t the coherent explanation for their cows falling over in the heat, and years of drought, and higher rates of asthma, if those things are unlinked random chance, there is no way to prepare for them and alleviate some future suffering.

Third, Nunes’ post mocks the concept of climate change and calls some of the environmentalist solutions “preposterous”.  But there is a whole suite of reasonable preparations and solutions that the southern San Joaquin Valley will need desperately.  Some of those are best done by government. When the governmental representative is denying the entire concept, I’m pretty sure that he’s not allocating more money to researching tree strains that require less chilling hours.  Governments were needed to manage the thousands of cow carcasses; this is foreseeable, and a good representative could have been working on getting plans in place.  Researching Valley Fever and asthma, planting urban trees, fighting fires, cutting down dead trees in the Sierras to protect communities.  An elected representative that is watching reality closely, with a scientific understanding of the phenomenon, would be bringing money and plans home to the district.  Nunes keeps proving that he will never be that elected representative.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “How Devin Nunes shortchanges his constituents.

  1. Anonymous

    Devin might not get re-elected. Didn’t think I would say that a few years ago…

  2. Can someone send this in to the newspaper??

  3. Tom O

    Wasn’t Representative Nunes part of the movie “Dead Harvest” (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax5A3r_z4KA), which described the drought in California? I thought that movie was excellent. It begins with President John F. Kennedy speaking at the groundbreaking for San Luis Dam on August 18, 1962.

  4. Jon Hoge

    This sort of blind ideological mentality reminds me a lot of people who claim that pumping less water south would result in improvements in endangered fish populations, despite our year after year real world experience of fish population reductions during the restricted pumping period. (Except for 2011, the year of unrestricted pumping)

  5. Anonymous

    Great article. Nunez is not a fact-based thinker. No area needs that in a politician.

  6. Steve Bloom

    Nunes’ cavalier attitude is perhaps in part a reflection of the “wingnut welfare” program instituted by the Kochs et al. There’s a nice position waiting for Nunes so long as he toes the party line on this stuff. Were he to stop toeing it, he’d simultaneously lose access to any such position and be looking at a primary challenge from the right. So I think self-interest explains his behavior neatly.

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