Author and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Tim Egan used the argument of Republican Jon Huntsman to show how the GOP had moved out of the mainstream of American thought leading up to its defeat in November.
Huntsman, the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China, was the only Republican presidential candidate to acknowledge that rapid climate change was caused by the burning of fossil fuels. He, of course, lost badly in the GOP primaries.
During his campaign, Egan noted, Huntsman used a doctor analogy to make the case that we should accept the scientific consensus on climate change.
“If nine out of 10 doctors said you have cancer, would you only listen to the 10th?” Egan said at the first Cecil Andrus Lecture at Boise State University Nov. 28.
Egan said GOP pundits’ unwillingness to accept math nerd Nate Silver’s data-based projections of the election was connected to the rejection of science in everything from rape and birth control to climate change.
“We are an enlightened people going back to Jefferson,” Egan said. “If you abandon science and reason, you lose.”
Idaho is a red state, but not the most Republican when it comes to the presidential vote. A smaller portion voters in Wyoming (28 percent) and Utah (25 percent) voted for President Barack Obama than in Idaho (33 percent), Egan said.
He predicted Obama and Congress will avoid going over the “fiscal cliff” because “both sides have a lot to lose.” He predicted that when health exchanges are implemented and people have real choice in health care, support for Obamacare will rise.
“You won’t have to stay in a crappy job just because of their health care,” Egan said.
Legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington got support not just because people want access to the popular drug. Voters were against incarcerating people for its use.
“Western libertarianism lives,” Egan said.
Republican Rep. Tom Trail of Moscow added his optimism that Idaho will eventually follow, even though his bills to legalize marijuana for medical uses have gone nowhere.
Voters in Butte, Mont., approved a measure saying corporations are not people and that Montana representatives should push for a constitutional amendment saying as much, Egan said.
Egan is a columnist for The New York Times who grew up in Spokane and now lives in Seattle. He is author of the National Book Award-winning tale of the Dust Bowl “The Worst Hard Time” and “The Big Burn,” about the 1910 fires in Idaho and Montana. His new book, “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher,” is about Edward Curtis, the renowned photographer of American Indians.
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