Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The liberating sensation of losing

Well.  Yesterday was election day, and a lot of the horses I was betting on lost.

Democrat Paul Kanjorski lost to Republican Lou Barletta to be our Congressional Representative.  More accurately, Paul Kanjorski lost to the wave of anti-incumbent fervor that has gripped the nation and infected this area as well.  After all, Barletta ran against Kanjorski two years ago, and locally things haven't changed that much.  Our economy and employment rates sucked back then, and they suck now.  Barletta hasn't scored any major political victories in that time.  But two years ago Kanjorski beat Barletta fairly easily.  This time Barletta beat Kanjorski.

What does that mean for the area?  In the short term, probably not that much.  Representatives have two-year terms, and if Barletta doesn't do something stunning in those two years, he'll probably be washed away by the next wave of anti-incumbency.  But with all his years in office, Kanjorski did wield a lot of seniority.  Of course, as a member of the new House minority, that might not mean all that much.  With Barletta a member of the new majority party in the House, maybe he'll be given some position that he will be able to use to benefit the area.  Although as a freshman member of the House, I seriously doubt that.

In the Senate race, Republican Pat Toomey beat Democrat Joe Sestak to win the seat currently held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter.  This may be a wash, since in any event this area was losing the benefits of Specter's seniority.   But I would have much preferred seeing Sestak in this position.  I believe he was the better candidate.

The biggest loss to me is the one that will affect the state the most:  Republican Tom Corbett defeated Democrat Dan Onorato to become the next governor of Pennsylvania.  I see this as an unmitigated environmental disaster for this state.  Corbett adheres to the Republican party line of less regulation and no new taxes, and extends the benefit of these positions to drillers extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation if Pennsylvania.  The severance tax, which is opposed by the Republicans in the Pennsylvania congress and only stayed in play because of Democratic governor Ed Rendell, isn't a mechanism designed to discourage gas drillers from coming to Pennsylvania; rather, it was designed to generate funds to be used to repair the structural and environmental damage done by gas extraction activities.  Without it, the likelihood is that this damage will simply go unrepaired, much like the scars and damage of Pennsylvania's coal mining past remain long after the industry pulled out of the area.

Corbett was opposed by a broad coalition of people who gave a damn about the environment, including several staunch Republicans of my acquaintance.  Things were already pretty bad here environmentally, and the promise of revenue resulting from Marcellus Shale drilling made opposition based on the fact that, say, drilling activity has poisoned drinking water wells in Dimock and caused the Susquehanna to begin bubbling with methane in Sugar Run made fighting for a responsible approach to natural gas extraction an uphill battle - and one that may have already landed some activists on terrorist watch lists.  With Corbett in the governor's mansion, things are going to get much, much worse.

And you know what?

It's not my fault.

I opposed these guys.  All of them.  Now they've won their elections, and come January, they'll be in office.

Barletta I almost think I can work with.  I'll send him the same message I sent to Specter and Kanjorski, probably with the same results.  (Though now I know enough to use the catchphrase "green jobs.")

Toomey I know little about.  A Senator is almost an abstraction, more involved with events on a national level than with anything on a state level.  We'll see how things go there.

Corbett...well, as I said, this is a disaster.  If you voted for him, or if you failed to vote for Onorato, the blame is as much on your head as it is on his.  For the rest of us, or for anyone wishing to make atonement, there's a long, hard battle ahead.  Most likely a losing battle, too.  But perhaps our efforts will help slow down how quickly we, and the environment, lose.

For now, for the next few days, I will put politics aside.  There's something else that is coming up soon, something that requires my attention, something to which I've made a commitment I have yet to fulfill.  I'm going to get started on that now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yuck, that's about all I can say about our Governor elect: Tom Drillbit.