The Green New Deal introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey outlines a plan to mobilize our resources to fight climate change and build a just economic future for our kids.
In the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt offered a New Deal, a rejection of the gilded age, when robber barons exploited our country’s resources with rapacious capitalism while ordinary citizens struggled to survive. We put millions to work building infrastructure and National parks and created a social security safety net. That generation defeated the Nazis and built an America that became a shining beacon of hope for people all over the world seeking freedom.
In the 1970s, a period of “malaise” settled upon our country. We elected a charismatic leader who provided a new deal epitomized by the phrase “Greed is Good.” With a revitalized economy and massive debt-financed military spending, we defeated communism for good. It was “Morning in America” again, and for a time, our purpose and greatness stood re-affirmed and millions once again felt proud to be Americans.
But that success was borrowed from the future. Environmental catastrophe became just another acceptable cost of success. Corporate power and wealth become concentrated and engrained in our political culture, and our society became increasingly divided into incredibly wealthy people with many options and many more just struggling to get by.
Now our environmental and social debts are coming due. Climate change will lead to greater and greater conflicts over resources on our planet and require expensive adaptations as we literally “seek higher ground.” The changes on our planet set in motion by the industrial revolution and ignored for the past decades will build momentum and become impossible to stop if we do not act now.
The social debts are even more significant. The stock market may rise and some companies will offer thousands of high-paying jobs for select workers, but for millions of young people the reality of the future is a world where they are asked to settle for less than our generation and where their children may not inherit an inhabitable world.
We need a Green New Deal to change the direction of our country and the composition of our economy away from a system that is failing our young people and destroying the planet. A Green New Deal will keep Americans safe from climate change and create millions of green jobs. It is common sense policy that is overwhelmingly popular with American people, regardless of political party or where they live.
Critics cry “Socialism!” but we are responsible, through our democracy, to build a better future for our kids that is not wholly dependent on the benevolence of a few powerful corporations. Not every element of the Green New Deal will pass, and there will be vigorous debate over specific programs. But I believe we should stand with the young people who are driving this fight for their future and commit wholeheartedly to a livable, just, and responsible future.