Sunday, November 9, 2014

Politics of Mass Deception

Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, got into hot water when his organization, No Labels, supported Cory Gardner, a Republican, in the Colorado Senate election.  Seems like Manchin and his buddy Jon Hunstsman are trying to create a new political movement that breaks down party affiliations by supporting political candidates who shun traditional party politics.

No Labels appears to be Libertarian in nature, calling it "The Politics of Problem Solving," although they are rather vague when it comes to outlining the positions they would take to break the gridlock in Congress.  I guess we have to wait until October, 2015, for the full version of their National Strategic Agenda.  Similarly, it is hard to find who their 100 allies in Congress are, other than Huntsman and Manchin, although they have lent their support to candidates who apparently expressed interest in their bipartisan cause, like Gardner.

Cory rode the Tea Party band wagon into Congress in 2010 and has served as US Representative from Colorado these past four years.  He represents the young face Republicans want to project for the future, given the hits their older incumbents have taken in primaries since 2010.

Judging from his record on wiki, he looks like a straight-up Republican, but has a pleasant demeanor and apparently is open to dialog, which I guess is what attracted No Labels.  The young Senator-elect wants to streamline environmental regulation policies to speed up oil drilling and fracking permits.  While serving in the House, he supported Paul Ryan's draconian deficit reduction plan, which was a non-starter these past four years in terms of bipartisan budget talks because of its massive domestic spending cuts.  To Cory's credit, he was one of the few House Republicans to vote for the Senate-revised Violence Against Women Act, which allowed it to become law, but at the same time co-sponsored "personhood" legislation known as the "Life Begins at Conception Act," essentially nullifying a woman's right to choose  between abortion or to carry her fetus to full term without facing criminal actions.

I'm not sure how No Labels plans to build its bridge across party lines, other than to find a handful of Democrats who essentially agree with the Republican platform, and see if they can break the deadlock on key votes that suit their agenda.  Manchin comes from conservative West Virginia, a coal state, so I guess he fits the bill.  Senate Democrats were notably upset that he could lend his name to an organization that would knock one of their own, Mark Udall, out of Congress.  Manchin has since stepped down as co-chair of No Labels to avoid any further conflicts of interest.

I've seen these kinds of organizations before.  They are really nothing more than a front for big industries like oil and coal.  Gardner, like Manchin, supports Keystone XL, and so it is very likely the Republicans will get the votes they need in the Senate this time around to get Keystone passed.  No Labels claims to be nonpartisan, working for "solutions," but the financial backers are the same groups who have managed to get fracking and deep water oil drilling permits, despite all the environmental concerns.  Keystone directly benefits the Koch Brothers, the major underwriter of Republican campaigns throughout the country.

These organizations invariably claim these energy industries create jobs, but they do so only on a small scale.  Coal employs less than one percent of the Kentucky and West Virginia labor force.  It would make much more sense to invest more heavily in solar, wind and geothermal energy, but there isn't yet a big enough lobby in Congress promoting sustainable energy.  These lobby groups (for that is what they are) also promote tax cuts for the same big energy industries, supposedly to stimulate the economy, but the consumer sees little in the way of benefits.

No wonder voters are confused and frustrated.  You vote for a guy like Cory Gardner thinking he will be a fresh new voice in Congress, and he ends up being a younger version of the old cronies who have been dominating politics for decades.  Thirty years from now, a new generation of teabaggers will be trying to vote him out in the primaries.

It is very disappointing because we sit on the cusp of a new energy revolution and we see the old industries protecting their monopoly on the energy market through Congress.  Solar, wind and geothermal energy will open the floodgates for start-up companies that would truly create more jobs, but alas would threaten big oil and big coal's control of the market.

You can forget the candy coating, No Labels offers the same bitter pill, and I doubt will have any "national strategy agenda" to present next Fall.  They promote their stale ideas on Sirius XM, the same satellite radio company that brings you Howard Stern, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.  No Labels just lends an air of "respectability" to this tired old banter under the false guise of "nonpartisanship."

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