I'll admit it. Although anyone who reads my bio knows that I have worked for Democrats, I was upset when Mike Castle, a Republican, lost last night in the Delaware primary. I may not have agreed with Castle on everything but he was a representative that was always open to listening, including on issues related to clean energy and climate change. It is a real shame and a loss for civility in politics.
Today is a new day and I personally think it is time that we all wake up.
The Tea Party has been successful throughout the primary season. Their candidates have come from behind and taken out what I would have previously described as ultra conservative incumbents, with what can only be described as radical right-wing rhetoric. Recently defeated Senator, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) received a cumulative 90% rating from the conservative, pro BIG business U.S Chamber of Commerce. Robert Bennet (R-UT), who lost to Tea Party son Michael Lee, had a 97%. By comparison, the Tea Party's beloved Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) only received an 83%. As someone who loves politics, I am mesmerized by this entire Tea Party exercise, but as someone who supports progressive policies and good government that serves the people, I am nervous.
If they can beat Castle in Delaware, Murkowski in Alaska, Bennet in Utah, to name a few, can they take over the Republican Party - and if that happens - could they take over Congress?
A takeover by the Tea Party would be devastating to environmental policies. The Tea Party would have caveman climate denying down to a science, if they actually believed in science. They claim that legislation addressing global warming is akin to raising taxes. But, the facts just don't back them up - and they completely fail to consider the costs of inaction.
The Tea Party is screaming about jobs lost to other countries when their unresearched positions on clean energy legislation have actually hurt our economy. In fact, yesterday, the Small Business Majority, Main Street Alliance, and the American Businesses for Clean Energy released a report showing nearly two million jobs have been lost because of Senate inaction on a climate bill. The same report noted that China "gained more than $11 billion in job creating clean energy investments in the two months since the U.S. Senate abandoned climate legislation." The bottom line is that the Tea Party doesn't have any idea what they are talking about when it comes to clean energy - but unfortunately, that doesn't keep them from talking.
And they have lots of environmental champs on both sides of the aisle running for cover. A recent Wonk Room survey found that of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate, all but one (who got beat last night) dispute the scientific consensus that the U.S. must act to fight global warming pollutions. Just two short years ago, Republicans starting to use climate change as a rallying cry to bring more people into what was going to be the "big tent" of the Republican Party. What a difference a couple of years can make.
I get that folks are disappointed that Congress has failed to enact some progressive policies, like climate legislation. Last night, that all changed for me. If you think things can't get worse, try picturing Christine O'Donnell as a Senator with Jim DeMint as the Leader of the Senate.
Time to get energized. If you support environmental policies, the Tea Party must be defeated.
Follow Heather Taylor-Miesle on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NRDC_AF