Implications of Massachusetts

A few reactions to the latest election in Massachusetts (which will make no pretense of comprehensiveness).

First, Geoff Styles:
In the course of a single month, from the conclusion of the Copenhagen climate conference to yesterday's special election in Massachusetts, the anticipated global response to climate change has shifted dramatically. What had once seemed a likely scenario of coordinated, mandatory cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions suddenly looks unattainable, at least any time soon, and the whole approach to addressing climate change is in urgent need of a rethink. While much of the attention in last night's election was focused on the prospect of a 41st Senate vote to block pending health care legislation, the same dynamic almost certainly applies to cap & trade, at least along the lines of the Waxman-Markey bill passed last June by the House of Representatives.
I'm probably in a minority of those concerned about climate change who welcome the demise of the Waxman-Markey approach. As I've noted before, it made little sense to adopt a methodology designed to create a level playing field for energy technologies based on their emissions, if it was established on such an intentionally-uneven foundation of excessive free allowances handed out to favored sectors and constituencies.
I've disagreed at length and on the record with Geoff on the efficiency of the Waxman-Markey version of cap-and-trade; suffice it to say here that I'll mourn its demise more than he does, partly because I thought it was a fine bill in practice and partly because the political winds don't seem to favor a robust alternative emerging in 2010. (and I think Geoff would agree with the latter)

The other thing I'll share is the gut reaction of ag/food blogger and Massachusetts resident Parke Wilde:
... it is true the Massachusetts is about 80% liberal by national standards, and only about 20% conservative. That makes Massachusetts much more liberal than most states. But the liberals are deeply divided. One half has working class and pro-union roots in manufacturing, construction, and government service industries, which are all suffering painful economic stresses. The other half is connected to the large higher education, financial service, biomedical, and software industries.

The Democratic candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley, is a highly educated lawyer who failed to reach out well to liberals with working class roots, who are genuinely fearful about economic conditions.

All conservative voters went to the polls yesterday, while some fraction of liberals stayed home.
As a highly educated former resident of Massachusetts with a great job, I'm probably somewhat victim to this same myopia... so perhaps one good thing that can come of this result is for that short-sightedness to fall away, for me and for others who also suffer from it.

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