Texas senator and Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is not only a fringe candidate. His environmental views make him a fringe conservative.
Cruz's ideological zealotry places him far outside the political mainstream as he campaigns to head a federal government that he wants to dismantle in a substantial way.
But nothing demonstrates his divorce from the Conservative Movement's fundamental tenets more graphically than his stance on the environment.
Cruz asserts that global warming is essentially a phony threat concocted by a global cabal of scientists seeking an open-ended source of funding. If elected president, the senator pledges that he would rescind President Obama's clean air and clean water legislative initiatives. At the same time, Cruz says, he would expand oil drilling on federal public lands, that is the lands he could not sell off to private parties or transfer to the states for commercial exploitation.
Would Cruz auction off our major national parks? No, but he promises to open up our nation's wilderness "crown jewels" to commercial energy extraction, an activity currently banned in those areas.
The Texas senator opposes any regulation of climate-related greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, in Cruz's scheme of things, the natural world seems to exist solely for the benefit of human beings, with no intrinsic value of its own.
Cruz reserves special venom for the United Nation's Agenda 21, which is a voluntary blueprint for nations to carry out environmentally sustainable development. Consistent with his world view of the United Nations, Cruz dismisses the blueprint as a nefarious plot "to abolish unsustainable environments including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads."
The senator even occasionally hints of distancing ourselves from the international organization.
As for the Environmental Protection Agency, Cruz has accused it of "intent on crippling capitalism."
This environmental posturing is in direct contrast to the philosophy of the founders of modern American conservatism.
The late Richard Weaver, a renowned University of Chicago scholar and one of the pioneers of the American post-World War Two Conservative Movement articulated an ecologically-related theme in a 1964 essay. He cautioned that "nature is not something to be changed according to human whims."
In an iconic 1953 treatise entitled "the Conservative Mind", Russell Kirk, one of the movement's seminal thinkers, declared that "the issue of environmental quality is one which transcends traditional political boundaries."
At a later date in his writings, an apprehensive Kirk unwittingly foretold the emergence of an outlier such as Cruz. Kirk lamented that "practical conservatism has degenerated into mere laudation of private enterprise, [and] economic policy has almost wholly surrendered to special interests."
For the original thinkers of the Conservative Movement, Cruz would not have made the grade. The Texas senator's universe is calibrated to "exploit", not "conserve", which is the pivotal combination of letters in the term "conservative".