Friday, November 26, 2004

Terrific editorial in today's NY Times. A piece:
To the extent that voters registered an opinion on environmental issues, they did it in local settings, and they consistently asked for more environmental protection than Mr. Bush has been offering them. With rare exceptions, the administration's operating mode has been to remove or roll back legal safeguards without putting much in their place, including the free-market solutions advertised as a substitute for regulations. This was true whether the issue was clean air, clean water or protecting the public lands from logging, destructive mining practices, overgrazing, and oil and gas drilling.

The voters sent a different message. In Colorado, a healthy majority approved a ballot initiative requiring electric utilities to generate 10 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2015, a more aggressive approach than any so far offered on the federal level. In Montana, despite heavy industry lobbying, an even greater majority upheld a prohibition on mining practices that pollute rivers and streams with toxic wastes - a brave vote in a poor state that needs jobs.

Nationwide, voters in red states as well as blue approved $2.53 billion worth of new bond issues to preserve open space - a clear rebuke to a Congress that has dramatically cut financing for land acquisition and to an administration that insists on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.

Of course, the environment will not play a role in GW's so-called "mandate." And yet it's well-documented that any time the environment ends up on a poll, it always receives a 70+% positive response, so the above local results are not surprising.

It also hints at a trend that will likely continue for the next four years, that of a more locally-driven America. Given the stark divide in the country, it makes sense for the blue states to increasingly legislate in accordance with what makes sense to their respective electorates, given GW/Cheney will more than likely rule in red-state fashion. Blue states should see an explosion of initiatives and propositions on their ballots over the next four years, working to provide for state-centric mandates that better fit the majority opinion.

Of course, I'm describing forms of Federalism. You always hear the right crowing about the virtues of Federalism -- let's see if they continue to sing its praises when it's used against King George.

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