Monday, June 2, 2014

It's a Dirty Job...

This article in the NYTIMES discuss how politicians in coal rich states are against Obama, and for coal, regardless of which party they're in. Democrats have a bigger problem here due to their connection to the President, but even they are hedging their bets.

Natalie E. Tennant, a Democrat running for an open seat in West Virginia, struck a similar tone. “I will stand up to President Obama, Gina McCarthy, and anyone else who tries to undermine our coal jobs,” she said Monday, referring to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is proposing the emissions regulation.

Pollsters suggest it's not as big an issue as some may suggest:

“People on the Republican side overestimate the feelings for this and on our side, Democrats are scared for no reason,” said Andrew Baumann, a Democratic pollster. “Some Democrats assume anything about global warming is a political loser. And that’s just not the case.” He identified races in Colorado and Iowa, with growing renewable energy sectors, where confronting global warming can help the Democratic candidate in hard-fought Senate contests “if they play it correctly.”

I don't buy the above argument as it relates to coal. In the aforementioned states, global warming issues play differently. Iowa is about corn, and ethanol fuel, so you can win with Obama on that. Colorado is about snow, and how it affects their economy. Warming hurts that. In Virginia there's a diversity of issues, so the environment may not resonate at the same level as it does in Kentucky, but the coast/ocean does play a role.

In West Virginia and Kentucky they have very little to care about when it comes to the environment other than the effect on their jobs. Democrats either have to be for the jobs, or they will probably lose. Most people care about themselves, and the red states prove that every time.

The real issue here comes down to the honesty of the politician, many who are at the mercy of this issue. Clearly, the trend is toward cleaning up the environment, and trying to hold back problems related to warming. But that's a loser in red states. So you have to decide: do you stand on principle; do you stand for the environment, or do you stand for the short-term job aspect of your constituents, and votes against a cleaner environment going forward?

My gut tells me that regardless of the party the self-interested will always be just that.

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