The American people have spoken. And what they have told us is, they want more Republicans in Washington. The leaders of the new Republican majority wasted no time in declaring that their first two legislative priorities are repealing Obamacare and overturning the regulations promulgated by the EPA that make it hard to build more coal fired electric generating plants.
Yessir, what America needs is more citizens without health insurance and more coal plants belching pollutants into the air. That’s progress for you.
For me, the results of the 2014 election represent the triumph of the Citizens United decision. You remember that, don’t you? That’s the case in which a majority of the Supreme Court decreed that preventing wealthy people and corporations from distorting the election process by spending cubic dollars on campaign advertising is unconstitutional.
He who has the biggest megaphone wins, say the solons of the Supreme Court but I can’t get the image out of my head of US Army troops surrounding the Vatican consulate in Panama City and blasting “I Fought The Law And The Law Won” at 150 decibels 24 hours a day until Manuel Noriega surrendered. The Supremes seem to believe the Constitution mandates domination by whoever can shout the loudest.
Under the new Congressional leadership, we can expect the XL pipeline to be quickly approved, anti-fracking measures defeated, and environmental regulation of any type diluted to the point of irrelevancy. I am reading Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” right now. That’s her book that attempts to persuade us that we have about 10 years to dramatically alter the way we treat our environment before climate change goes into overdrive, spreading death and destruction around the globe.
Some observers, mostly identified with Republican ideology, have suggested that climate change is of little concern to them because it will impact poor nations disproportionately. Those are the same nations that failed to thrive when they had the chance and so it is just tough luck it they should suffer now. In the end, America will be strengthened by the distress of others, which will enhance our position as the pre-eminent nation of the world. It is our God given right to the richest, strongest and most bad ass nation on Earth, or so the thinking goes.
I woke up the morning after the election feeling America’s glass was way less than half full. It might even be fair to say that a tinge of despair touched my soul. The worst of all possible worlds would be if Ruth Bader Ginsburg steps down and gets replaced by a hard right ideologue who will cast a pall over American history for the next 4 decades. Certainly the search for social justice for the poor, the powerless, and the oppressed has been made far more difficult by having Republican majorities in both houses of Congress.
But in the days following the election, a few rays of sunshine appeared. A ballot question calling for a state constitutional convention was defeated. A coalition spearheaded by Planned Parenthood spent a lot of money on ads that informed the citizens of Rhode Island that the last ConCon was all about adding anti-abortion provisions to our state constitution. The ballot question was soundly defeated, which suggests that the Citizens United decision may cut both ways.
And this man got 22% of the votes for governor, even though his campaign spending totaled only $38. A perennial candidate for many years in Rhode Island, his campaign slogan has always been, “A strange man for a strange job.” In the last election, he ran for Lieutenant Governor on the promise that he would abolish the office if elected.
Maybe there’s hope for us yet.