Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected by the people of her district in New York to represent new, fresh, young blood in the political landscape. That’s readily apparent by simple, observable facts: She’s the youngest congresswoman ever elected to Congress, her full embrace of social democracy, and her unwavering commitment to climate change policy revolution. When AOC first got to D.C., one of her first public acts was to push Nancy Pelosi further out front on climate change than she’d been before, and she succeeded.
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Today, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez unveiled her “Green New Deal” — a radical legislative proposal that would put a heavy emphasis on policy initiatives that address and combat climate change and its effects.
“Climate change and our environmental challenges are one of the biggest existential threats to our way of life, not just as a nation, but as a world,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a press conference. “In order for us to combat that threat, we must be as ambitious and innovative as possible.” (The Atlantic)
It already has some support in the House, and a cheerleader in the Senate who would, it can be assumed, try to help guide it through the Senate, should Democrats, or more climate conscious Republicans, join the Senate any time soon.
In four dense pages, the blueprint commits the federal government to a “10-year national mobilization” on par with the effort made during World War II. She was joined by dozens of environmental-activist groups, a handful of fellow House members—and by Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat of Massachusetts who led a failed push to pass an ambitious climate bill in 2010.
Alluding to FDR’s New Deal — a set of liberal ideals and bold policy proposals that included Social Security — the Green New Deal is an unabashedly progressive, and hopeful, set of plans for addressing climate change at the federal level on par with projects like the highway system and NASA. In fact, just like FDR’s original New Deal, part of AOC greener offspring also seeks to promise a living wage to All Americans, as well as set aside money to create green energy infrastructure, as well as other projects meant to stem polluting emissions.
…would direct new solar farms to bloom in the desert, new high-speed rail lines to crisscross the Plains, and squadrons of construction workers to insulate and weatherize buildings from Florida to Alaska. It would guarantee every American a job that pays a “family-sustaining wage,” codify paid family leave, and strengthen union law nationwide.
It’s bold, and it dreams big, and it cannot be understated how much a mountain it would have to climb in the Senate to even get to the floor. The Green New Deal, though, is still the most detailed policy proposal on climate change to date. But as The Atlantic reported, just because it faces an insanely long and seemingly impossible journey into law, there are signs that the Green New Deal can still play a big part in next year’s election.
A young voter movement, spurred-on by the hope that a new president and Senate control could mean eventual passage of the Green New deal, scares certain people in this country, but it gives hope to millions of others.
…it has become the biggest idea in U.S. climate policy, and four Democratic presidential contenders have spoken in support of it(if tepidly). In practical terms, today’s plan matters most for the 2020 election. It shows that the broad left is on board with a policy; activist groups can now send detailed questionnaires to candidates and prepare report cards on the depth of their Green New Deal support.
Regardless of how long it takes for the AOCs proposals to make into the Oval Office for signing, she’s shown a willingness to commit to making climate change one of her signature issue. Millennials are the generation tasked with not only getting people on board with climate change proposals, but also with planning for dealing with its impacts. It will take more people like her both in elected offices and among the private sector committed to the task to get it passed and implemented successfully.
The New Green Deal is also notable for what issues it doesn’t try to influence, yet. For instance, the use and development of nuclear or carbon-capturing tech. Though those technologies may be sketchy for some climate activists, the fact the New Green Deal leaves the door open means that a) it acknowledges that research is still being done into them and that b) the research could prove them to help make a downward impact on average climate temps. Now is not the time to shut ourselves off to solutions to problems, if we’re still looking into them.
Or, put succinctly:
“We are open to whatever works,” Markey said Thursday.
As much as the Green New Deal is in its infancy, and as many opponents as it already has, and will always have, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is confidently leading the charge, bringing a young, determined perspective on a crisis she knows we all have to be a lot more determined to resolve. Maybe it’s just an opening proposal, but Americans have often taken challenges like this one head-on, and produced results that even surpass the expectations of the leaders bold enough to make the challenge in the first place.
It certainly doesn’t hurt having a loud, smart climate advocate in Congress, at any rate.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.