Steven Chu’s Rorschach Test, and a Query About Stripping Fred Upton of His Seniority

Increasingly I think the light-bulb issue is one of those fault lines in attitudinal American politics, in which one can reasonably easily read off most people’s attitudes on a pretty wide range of political issues on the basis of supporting or condemning the current legislation.  I’m not claiming extraordinary accuracy here, so no need to get all lathered up in the comments.  Still, I think this remark by Energy Secretary Steven Chu serves as a kind political Rorschach test; this, from an article on the light-bulb controversy in the Wall Street Journal.

“We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money,” [Chu] said.

My own view, fwiw, is that of Ann Althouse and Virginia Postrel – repeal now.  Your results, of course, may differ.

I’d also support some kind of sanction on Rep. Fred Upton.  One of the problems of our geographically based legislature is that unless a representative’s stance is unpopular within his or her district, there are limited options for those in the country at large to make their unhappiness felt, except through the discipline of the national party.  So I’d propose – or at least want to ask about the consequences of – pressing the Republican leadership to agree to punish Upton by stripping him of all seniority if the repeal fails to happen.  If this has bad unintended consequences, I’d be happy to learn about them; this is a trial balloon.

However, this would presumably send a message to Upton’s constituents that the rest of us (Republicans) are Not Pleased and also send a message to Republican legislators that apologizing for something that might not be reversible afterwards is not good enough.  That’s particularly so when you propose to “apologize” by saying, as Upton did, that it “was never my goal for Washington to decide what type of light bulbs Americans should use” – as if there could possibly have been any other goal.  So what bad unintended consequences might this proposal have, or should I forward it to Althouse, Postrel, and the Republican leadership?

Update:  Le Co-conspiratoire Adler adds in the comments:

I certainly support repeal, but it appears even this is being done in a silly way. The legislation would not only repeal the federal mandate, but also preempt any state or local government standards. The problem is not simply the nature of the mandate, but also the idea that this sort of decision must be made in Washington, D.C.

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