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Cleaning Up the Morning after a Tea Party, Part I: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

11/03/2010

-by Derek Gideon

Just when you had your Halloween party mess taken care of, a tea party comes along.

You can go pretty much anywhere on the Internet to find the endless nattering about whether the  Democrats went to far to the left, didn’t communicate well enough, whether Obama is having his Bill Clinton 1994 moment or his Reagan early 1980’s moment or his first term FDR moment or his afternoon tea moment. Frankly, I find it mostly boring, so I won’t spend much time on it. I will say this though- I do hope that, amidst all the talk about what Obama needs to do to win in 2012, we don’t forget the actual policies involved and the need to do what’s right. Because the tea kettle may  be steaming, but the glaciers are still melting.

Okay, now we’ve got that taken care of, let’s survey the wreckage:

The Good

In all the talk about tea party victories, it’s easy to overlook some wins for the climate movement on Tuesday. First, the Koch-industries-supported ballot initiative Proposition 23 has been defeated. (Though some of my friends in Terrace may be mourning the defeat of another California ballot initiative) Prop 23 would have made California’s landmark clean energy legislation contingent on keeping unemployment below 5%.

Still in California, Jerry Brown won his race to once again become Governor of California. Governor-elect Brown was instrumental in promoting green energy growth in California in the 1970’s. Creating jobs in California through green energy is a major plank of his campaign in 2010. If you want a sense of whether it will work, just ask his defeated opponent, Princeton alum Meg Whitman ’77:

Meanwhile, it’s not just California voters who have chosen the green development path: Denver mayor and sustainable transport advocate John Hickenlooper won the governorship of Colorado, New York’s Andrew Cuomo hasn’t campaigned on green jobs but includes it in his platform, and Texas secessionist Rick Perry doesn’t believe in man-made climate change but still wants to develop wind energy in Texas.

The Bad

If the Democrats couldn’t pass a national climate change policy with majorities in both houses, they sure aren’t going to do it now. The Republicans have a majority in the House, and have eroded Democrats’ control of the Senate. All of the new Republican Senators deny the science of man-made climate change, as do many of the new House Republicans including the new speaker, Congressman John Boehner (R-OH).

The Ugly

While tea party candidates Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and Carl Paladino all lost their races, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Nikki Haley won theirs, and the tea party is widely seen as a new power player. This is Rand Paul, accused President Obama of supporting “Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, and others- Evo Morales” by attending the Copenhagen climate talks last December. The LA Times reports that senior Republicans in congress are planning a series of house investigations of climate scientists and the EPA, including the revival of the “climategate” non-scandal, for which the scientists involved have already been investigated and exonerated several times.

And in case things weren’t looking bad enough on the tea party side, you have Joe Manchin, new Democratic Senator from West Virginia, appearing in political ads shooting the cap-and-trade bill:

So on the federal front, brace yourselves for little action on climate change and a lot of circus theatrics.  But that’s just the short term. I will address where the climate movement goes next in Part II.

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