Election 2010: Lessons Learned and Mis-Learned

  • Published on November 3rd, 2010

The ballots are cast and mostly counted, and now the post-mortem begins. What does the midterm election mean for the environment?

Was this a rejection of progressives? Not so much. As Meteor Blades noted over at DailyKos, it wasn’t the Progressive Caucus that was decimated – it was the moderate/conservative Blue Dog Caucus. Only four progressives went down, but on the Blue Dog side:

As of 8 a.m. Pacific Time, 23 Blue Dogs from New York to Arizona had lost their seats… In addition to the 23 Blue Dogs defeated at the polls, four others had chosen not to run, and two made unsuccessful runs for the Senate. All were replaced by Republicans, bringing the total Blue Dog losses to 29… More than half the caucus, including two of its leaders, will thus be gone when the 112th Congress is seated in January.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/11/3/916876/-Progressives-Caucus-remains-intact,-becomes-a-plurality-of-House-Dems#mce_temp_url#crunched the numbers on the Democratic Congressional losses, including the middle-of-the-road New Democrats as well:

  • Progressives     5%
  • New Democrats   38%
  • Blue Dogs     45%

Of the 61 Democrats defeated, the vast majority were business-oriented moderates and conservatives who weren’t giving full support to environmental causes anyway. These were the guys who were watering down every Democratic initiative of the past four years, and voting against climate change bills in the hope of hanging on to their seats. That didn’t work out so well.

Now, as they move on to lucrative jobs as lobbyists (you know that’s where they’re all going to end up), the rest of us can move forward to actually pushing a real environmentalist agenda and compromising AFTER we start negotiations, rather than handing over all our cards before we even sit down at the table.

This was a rejection of that kind of watered-down “No we can’t” policy. Here’s what the Economist had to say last month (via):

But this isn’t just a superficial public-relations issue for the Democrats. It’s the product of a deeper malady affecting the party. Democrats seem to be unable to craft policies that deliver clear results in a fashion which voters can understand and vote on. That’s because the policy-making process that takes place among Democratic legislators is so open to compromise, amendment, interest-group giveaways, and bank-shottery that the party’s big programmes end up lacking coherence, not just in their details, but in their basic goals and values.

How about that bi-partisanship?

As RGB noted last month, Republican leaders such as Mike Pence and John Boehner have already said they have no intention of compromising with Obama and the Democrats. And incoming House Committee Chairmen intend to use their pulpits to launch a crusade against science, rather than actually accomplish anything. Looks like the weather forecast will be two more years of gridlock and grandstanding.

There’s still room for moderate Republicans; just not as, well, Republicans. Former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee will make a very green-friendly Governor of Rhode Island, having scored a victory as an Independent over a conservative Republican AND a conservative Democrat.

A good perspective on the election from DailyKos’s Bill in Portland Maine:

Let’s keep this in perspective. This is not a seismic shift to the Republican agenda. This was a protest vote—a message to Democrats that said, “We don’t think you delivered results fast enough, so we’re going to make you feel our pain the only way we know how: by reminding you that there’s another team out there.”

…Democratic policies are still more popular than Republican policies when we explain them…it’s just that the average American doesn’t have the time or inclination to be explained to. So on we search for ways to slap our brand on a bumper sticker. (“We’re less worse than Republicans” didn’t cut it this time.)

It’s the morning after. Let’s get back to work. There’s a job to do.

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.


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