U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Jesse Costa/WBUR; Kathy Willens/AP)
Last Tuesday, the Republican-led Senate made a mockery of the Green New Deal by forcing, without discussion, an up-or-down “bluff vote” on the resolution. Referencing a climate deniers’ laugh line about livestock flatulence, in reference to the resolution’s mention of the high levels of methane that farm animals produce, Senator Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, called the proposal an “assault on cars, cows, and combustion.”
Markey replied, “Climate change is not a joke. Mocking it and comparing it to cartoon characters while the Midwest is flooded and people have died because of climate-related extreme weather is shameful.”
On Wednesday, in the House, Ocasio-Cortez delivered an impassioned response to Representative Sean Duffy’s dismissal of the deal as a fantasy for “rich liberals.” The next day, at a rally for President Trump, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the crowd took to chanting a new mantra: “A.O.C. sucks.”
The Green New Deal proposal calls for “a new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era.” The Nuclear Freeze era has relevance, too, as a reminder of what is possible. Even as the pragmatic Democratic leadership shies away from the full-bore ambitions of the Green New Deal—more modestly proposing, for example, to salvage U.S. support for the Paris Climate Accord—the politics of environmental catastrophe have already shifted.
When a wave of public recognition begins to crest, what is mocked, or even condescendingly dismissed as merely aspirational, can yet redefine American purposes. It happened before. MORE