It’s difficult to crystallize a single response to the Green New Deal. At first glance, it’s such a grab bag of seemingly unrelated priorities that you might be tempted to laugh. But just as AOC suggested last month, this is climate change as a vehicle for a lot of other democratic socialist priorities. It even includes an opening for what sounds like reparations. Granted, that word is not in the document (either of them), but it certainly seems to fit with some of the statements that do appear in the document. Over at NRO, David French highlights this graph from the resolution:
It declares that it is the “duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal—”
(E) to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.
This isn’t environmentalism, it’s intersectionality. And it’s intersectionality supplemented with a giant dose of income redistribution and economic populism. As part of the Green New Deal, the resolution laments the concentration of wealth in the hands of the top 1 percent and seeks to “guarantee a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.”
Oh, and the Green New Deal also includes a pledge that the federal government will make sure that “all people of the United States” receive “high quality health care, affordable, safe, and adequate housing, [and] economic security.” The fact sheet even pledges to provide economic security for all those who are “unable or unwilling to work.” (Emphasis added.)
Again, the word “reparations” does not appear but it’s not hard to imagine it coming under “repairing historic oppression.” Add in all the other intersectional priorities and this seems a long way from protecting the oceans from rising. Even Politico’s Michael Grunwald find much of the document to be a big stretch. He opens by acknowledging that the document’s central goals will not happen in a decade:
Let’s get real: The United States is not going to achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions in 10 years, the key goal of the Green New Deal resolution that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) unveiled Thursday.
More real talk: America won’t get 100 percent of its power from zero-emissions sources within a decade, either, another audacious Green New Deal goal.
Grunwald goes on to point out the same thing David French did at NRO, i.e. this document is chock-full of progressive priorities that appear unrelated to those impossible goals anyway:
The most glaring problem with the Green New Deal is that it doesn’t just make that case for all-out emergency climate action; it calls for a whole basket of new progressive policies. It treats all of America’s problems—wage stagnation, unaffordable housing, anti-competitive business practices, the decline of labor unions—as if they were just as urgent as the climate crisis. And its proposed solutions are just as expansive. Like a federal job guarantee assuring “a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security.” Or a pledge to “provide all people of the United States with—(i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe and adequate housing
(iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.”
Those all might be serious problems, but they are separate from the problem of the carbon emissions our power plants and vehicles and factories are pumping into the atmosphere. That’s the problem that threatens to render the earth uninhabitable. And the suggestion that Green New Deal legislation will need to include provisions for universal health care, paid vacations, stronger collective bargaining rights and “universal access to healthy food” is really a suggestion that the Green New Deal is pure symbolism. It’s going to be hard enough to pass legislation addressing the climate crisis without trying to solve every other social and economic problem that Democrats have ever dreamed of solving in the fine print…
By converting the Green New Deal into a catch-all left-wing wish list, its supporters are undermining their argument that climate is a unique emergency.
What is going on here? There’s a skeleton key of sorts that makes sense of this odd leftist wish list. It’s called capitalism. Really, making sense of this jumble of a proposal is that simple.
The reason much of the document seems to be aimed at rearranging the economy far beyond the already extreme measures that would be required to fight climate change is, I believe, that AOC sees capitalism as the root of the problem. And if capitalism is the root, then it’s not enough to cut emissions or install more solar panels. What you need is to end capitalism by reducing air travel, giving jobs to people even if they won’t work, guarantee free health care, free college, affordable (government subsidized?) housing, and using whatever’s left to repair historic oppression. Because if you do all of that, there is no capitalism left.
Government handing out make-work jobs that pay a “living wage” regardless of the work itself (or whether someone works at all) is not compatible with capitalism. And remember, the goal of this document is for America to lead the way for the world.
The secret of the Green New Deal is not that it’s an odd grab bag of unrelated priorities, but that it’s an even more extreme proposal than it appears to be. This isn’t a plan to save the planet, it’s a plan to save the planet by ending capitalism.
We already know that’s what AOC wants to do. She recently said any system that allows billionaires to exist is immoral. She wants to solve that problem. Last year, before she was even elected she said, “Capitalism has not always existed in the world and will not always exist in the world.” She wants to make that happen. We’ve also heard from her fellow Democratic Socialists that yes, they really want to end capitalism.
Here’s the real message of the Green New Deal: She wasn’t kidding.