Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cantor's Loss to the Tea Party Kills Any Hope for Green Legislation

The defeat of Eric Cantor by Tea Party candidate David Brat in Virginia means that we can expect the deadlock in Congress to continue. This is particularly true with regard to energy, environment and climate legislation. While the GOP is well known for being anti-science and anti-environment, Tea Party Republicans are far more likely to be climate deniers than their mainstream Republican counterparts. Cantor is no friend of the environment but he has lost to someone that is far less likely to support even the most rudimentary green legislation.

When it comes to climate change there is a stark partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats, but the tendency towards denial is far more pronounced among Tea Party Republicans.

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center poll, 67 percent of Americans think climate change is real. Only 4 percent of Democrats think climate change is not happening and 13 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans share that view. Among supporters of the Tea Party the number who deny the veracity of climate change soars to 41 percent. To put it another way 61 percent of mainstream, non-Tea Party Republicans think there is solid evidence for global warming, while just 25 percent of Tea Party Republicans share that view.

Despite massively outspending his opponent ($5.2m compared to $120,000), Cantor suffered a humiliating loss. The results are a stunning upset as a House majority leader has not suffered a defeat in a primary in 115 years. Cantor was the second most senior Republican in the House and he was expected to replace John Boehner as the speaker. This loss represents a significant defeat for mainstream Republicans and a major victory for the climate denying fringe.
The grassroots movement that helped the GOP to gain ground has hijacked the Republican party and undermined national governance. Their extreme form of obstructionism has even succeeded in shutting down government.

Brat's campaign strategy focused on how Cantor had worked on bipartisan efforts including immigration reform and financial compromise efforts such as extending the debt ceiling and budget authority.

For the Tea Party, working in a bipartisan fashion is tantamount to selling your soul to the devil. This election result will no doubt send shock waves through the Republican party and push some to be even more obstructionist, anti-science, and anti-environment than they already were.

Brat's victory is an indication that Republicans have yet to cleanse their party of their Neanderthal brethren. While many had hoped that Republicans would succeed in ferreting out the anti-government Luddites that infect the party, the most recent results indicate that they are still alive and well. The net result is that no legislation will get through Congress in the foreseeable future, this is especially true for progressive energy and environment bills.

The Tea Party has broken the American legislative process and this definitively precludes all forms of green legislation. Unless Democrats can retain control of the Senate and take back the House in the 2014 midterms the legislative deadlock will continue.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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