Change Is Coming

This story is about a week old by now, which is decades in internet-time, but I didn't want it to pass without mention here. Henry Waxman (On the left, with the power mustache) challenged and defeated John Dingell for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which was about a 6.5 on the political Richter scale. John Dingell has been the ranking Democratic member of this committee since 1995, and assumed the chairmanship when the Democrats took control of the House after the 2006 elections. Dingell has always been a staunch advocate for the auto companies (and by extension the oil companies), and has been blocking regulations aimed at curbing global climate change for years and years.

Oftentimes when people aren't acquainted with how the federal government really works, they'll read about a problem, like, say, climate change, with some widely agreed upon measures that need to be taken, and say "why doesn't the government just do that?" Nine out of ten times the answer is because of someone like John Dingell; A congressman or senator with seniority and a chairmanship who uses his or her power to myopically advocate for a narrow constituency.

Waxman is a congressman from California, and was a pitbull on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Most importantly, though, he will be a strong advocate for environmental and energy-smart policies as committee chairman. His defeat of Dingell removed a huge obstacle to any carbon cap-and-trade legislation. Dingell would have certainly inserted himself as the gatekeeper of any carbon legislation through the house; My favorite Dingell anecdote is that he has a poster of the Earth from space in his office and when asked what his committee's jurisdiction is, he points to the poster.

Just another thing to be pleased with after the election. Obama has a lot of power, but on his big domestic issues particularly, he'll need the support of congress, and Henry Waxman just did us all a favor and removed a roadblock.