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.