How Right-Wing Gasbags Cooked Up a Fantastically Dumb Culture War

This silly game requires the right to successfully get perfectly anodyne recommendations, information, and mandates reflected in a funhouse mirror for media consumption. And when the caricature becomes news, real-world knowledge falls by the wayside. Cigarettes, for instance, are bad for you, and the government discourages people from using them in a variety of ways. But as of this writing, they’re not banned. Similarly, there’s little reason to believe that any kind of gas stove ban is coming, and Trumka clarified as much not long after conservative luminaries lost their ever-loving minds over his comments. But on the right, even the knowledge that can help consumers make free and informed choices—including the reminder that gas stoves may not be good for you, and especially not good for young children—is apparently anathema, another sign of the fascist nanny state trying to dictate how you kill your own brain cells. 

Gas stoves are particularly attractive as a culture-war subject because they are also connected to the natural gas industry which, along with the larger fossil fuel industry, is symbiotically attached to the right-wing funder apparatus. The gas stove controversy is—like the plastic straw meltdown of yesteryear—a way for the right to turn the effort to fight climate change and reduce pollution into digestible, culture-war items. As with getting a vaccine or having the occasional vegan burger, so goes the plastic straw and the gas stove: Politics-free decisions made by ordinary people are transformed by the right into symbols of political identity.  

This is, inevitably, what happens when a political movement gives up on policy: Everything becomes identity politics. The right has long since stopped trying to come up with solutions to problems like climate change. There is no effort to reckon with the possibility that gas stoves may be bad for you. There is no interest in actually solving these problems. No one’s thinking big picture: A long-term transformation from gas to induction stoves could promote stateside manufacturing, create scads of new jobs, and make entrepreneurs a lot of money—all things the GOP occasionally claims to lionize, along with idealizing the virtues of individual choice. Republicans are making the hollow choice here, opting for a cheap supply raw material for their never-ending outrage mill, because that’s what they do here.