Almost everybody hates Congress these days. Its job approval rating has sunk to a paltry 17 percent. It only passed 23 laws this year – including one to name a bridge, and another to promote fishing in some river. But strangely, politicians don’t seem to be all that worried. And that’s because of a curious disconnect among voters: We hate Congress, but fully half of us are okay with our own representatives.
They’re a total disaster, we say. But don’t blame my guy (or gal).
Here in New Jersey, I keep wondering how long this disconnect can survive. Of all states, we’ve suffered among the most from environmental chaos. We absorbed the direct hit from super-storm Sandy. We’ve suffered three straight years of major power outages due to severe weather. We’ve dealt with 100-year storms on a nearly routine basis. We’ve experienced increases in both extreme rainfall and drought, and broken virtually all records for hot weather.
Congress, however, has shot down all legislative attempts to deal with the changing climate, and forced the President Obama to rely solely on executive measures. What a mess! But – perhaps we reassure ourselves – my congressman is probably okay.
And then again, maybe not. Take my congressman, Scott Garrett. Reelected for a sixth term in Congress, he most recently captured 55 percent of the vote here in New Jersey’s 5th District. Despite what we’re suffering here in the Garden State, Garrett still openly doubts the findings of climate science. Continue reading
My, what a difference a year makes.
Remember? This time last year, the mere mention of climate change was taboo in virtually any American political circles. All GOP presidential contenders renounced any admissions they might have once ventured regarding climate science. Mitt Romney used rising sea levels as a laugh line at the GOP convention, the height of irony given Tampa’s extreme vulnerability to the rising seas. And for his part, Obama wouldn’t mention the “C-word.” Energy policy was “all-of-the-above,” all the time.
Climate activist Ben Lowe and Young Evangelicals for Climate Action actually went to one of the televised debates to demand that Romney and Obama at least address the matter of climate change — what they called a moral and spiritual issue. Sorry, Ben. No such luck.
So you can be excused if shifting political winds have you confused. Of course, there was the President’s hallmark climate change speech at Georgetown University two weeks ago, giving renewed hope to environmentally-conscious Americans. And newly-confirmed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy then named climate policy as the number-one priority of her agency. But speeches by just-reelected presidents and appointed cabinet officials may not mean all that much. How about people who have to face the voters in the near future?
Well, that’s the amazing thing. Virginia’s race for governor pits climate-denier Ken Cucinelli against former Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe. Unsurprisingly, Cucinelli wears his climate denial proudly. But – and here’s the shocker – McAuliffe wants to be sure every Virginian knows that. He has campaigned with climate scientist Michael Mann, once the target of Cucinelli’s legal harassment. And McAuliffe even runs campaign ads highlighting Cucinelli’s staunch climate-change denial. Take a look: