If you were to rely on the mainstream media for an analysis of Tuesday’s election, you might think that a Tea Party revolution is about to take hold of Washington. Yes, Rand Paul was elected; the countdown begins on his vow to eliminate entire Federal Government departments. Yes, some amazingly effective leaders such as Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold were defeated. However, in the larger picture, those concerned with creating a sustainable future can celebrate some important victories.
First of all, California voters dealt a resounding defeat to Proposition 23, which would have suspended California’s pioneering greenhouse gas reduction law, AB 32. Prop. 23 wasn’t just defeated, it was defeated 61-39. California voters said no to Texas-based oil interests. They are committed to an energy future that recognizes the externalities of fossil-based fuels, and demand a clean energy revolution. Try that on for size, Tea Party.
Second, while many sympathetic politicians lost, some stalwarts of sustainability, like Senator Barbera Boxer in California, fought off challengers. Former Denver mayor, and sustainability advocate John Hickenlooper was convincingly elected Governor of Colorado. Governor Deval Patrick was re-elected in Massachusetts, and Independent Lincoln Chafee held off a last minute challenge by Republican John Robitaille in the Rhode Island Governor’s race. Even one Republican victor, Governor-elect Rick Snyder of Michigan, offers hope, as he is a board member of The Nature Conservancy. Extremists like Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell were defeated. In short, while no one will confuse incoming House Speaker John Boehner as a champion of sustainability, Tuesday’s midterm election was not a disaster.
For one day, Rhode Island entered the national political spotlight. President Obama was on his way into town to raise money for David Cicilline, the Providence Mayor who is running for Rhode Island’s First Congressional District. Frank Caprio, the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate who once shopped his candidacy to the Republican Party, is angry at the President for not endorsing him over rival Independent Candidate Linc Chafee. Of course, the President decided not to give an endorsement out of respect to Chafee, his friend from the Senate. Chafee endorsed the President in 2008, and a skeptic might call this quid pro quo.
So Caprio, in either a political calculation or a fit of rage, decided to go out on talk shows and tell the President he could take his endorsement and shove it. His strategy will backfire, much like the national Republican strategy will backfire. Caprio could have respectfully stated that the endorsement was not important, that the President must make his own decision, and Caprio would have appeared the mature leader. Instead, Caprio pulled out typical Rhode Island shenanigans by calling the non-endorsement “political.” Of course its political!
The President came into office with the intent of trying to mend the political divide, to nurture compromise and cooperation. The Republicans, from day one, decided to abstain from the problems of the day, and refused to compromise. They offered their blueprint, and claimed that if Democrats did not adopt it entirely, it was not bipartisanship. Lincoln Chafee is one of a dying breed – an honest to God centrist. He is willing to compromise and build coalitions. We need many more men like Chafee and President Obama. Republican Gubernatorial Candidate John Robitaille likes to criticize the “old politics” but his Republican Party is just as adept at playing them. Robitaille tells audiences what they want to hear, and talks in platitudes – Robitaille even hides his views on climate science.
The Republicans are unable to work effectively with Democrats to deal with the serious problems of our day. They have already shown that they are not ready to get down to the serious work of dealing with long term entitlement reform, climate change, and building a 21st Century economy in clean energy. Caprio has not shown the maturity or leadership qualities that our next Governor will need to deal with the serious challenges we face. Michael Bloomberg and President Obama are right about Chafee. He is the best choice for Governor of Rhode Island.
via On Politics