Do you like
The Green New Deal and ham?*
I do not like them,
I do not like
The Green New Deal and ham….
Would you like them
Here or there?
If you will let me be.
I will try them.
You will see.
I like the Green New Deal and ham!
I do like them. Sam-I-am!
Every pundit, expert, and critic, including this humble one, has an opinion on the Green New Deal (GND). It’s as though a big sigh of relieve has swept through the national dialogue. Not because of the virtues or faults of the Green New Deal, because no one knows what they are yet. We are still blind men feeling the elephant. But because we are finally talking about something of importance to the nation and our future instead of some ridiculous hourly tweet.
The Green New Deal is not a plan, Sam-I-am. It is a vision.
A vision is a platform for a discussion of what our values are, what kind of society do we want, and lastly, what’s the best way to get there. Of course we don’t know how we would pay for it. One side will say it’s too expensive, the other will say we can’t afford not to do it. Criticism of it is premature and says something about the side criticizing. The value is in helping us set a direction for the country and it’s been a long time since we had a serious conversation about anything of substance.
Leadership is required for a vision. And vision is required for good messaging. The classic example is John F. Kennedy saying we will put a man on the moon in ten years. No one knew how to do that, how to pay for it, or what would be required. Some said it would be too expensive. Or the timeline was too short. Or that we would die trying because men can’t survive in space. But behind these critiques was a national sense of urgency and need because the Russians were threatening our security with Sputnik and the first man to orbit the earth. We now have a more urgent reason to focus on the Green New Deal. Our future survival on earth.
There is a classic dilemma between those that are visionaries and those that must implement. Those that implement will always challenge the vision as being too pie in the sky, expensive or unrealistic. Those that create the vision will say that the implementer is too slow, not serious and not working hard enough. If we revert to this approach, then the Green New Deal will go no where. This is undoubtedly what those on the Right want. To be conservative by nature means a return to the status quo. Yet when we are threatened, bold ideas are required. We need to be inspired and the vision is part of this.
Yet the Green New Deal is about more than climate. It’s about climate and social justice. People of Color and those on the margins of society will be most drastically affected by the climate crisis. Today, the US ranks 4th of 141 countries in the world in the income gap. So of course the reaction of the Right will be to create fear and disparage the vision. Their goal is not equity, but preservation of wealth. It is driven by contributions from big oil, big coal, utilities and corporations. Only it’s becoming abundantly clear that they mean to destroy the earth to preserve their wealth.
One only has to look at the fossil fuel driven policies of the current occupant to understand. Ask the people of Puerto Rico, or the victims of Hurricanes Sandy, Michael or Irma whether their government gives a rat’s ass about them. Ask the people of families killed in California wildfires if the big oil companies or utilities care about them. Or those that are suffering drought. The question is simple: Why does Exxon Mobile get to determine the fate of the earth?
The messaging for critics of the Green New Deal whether on the Right or the Left should be simply… “What are your ideas? If you haven’t got real and constructive ideas about how we address the issue of climate and social justice, then step back. Lead, follow or get out of the way.” Of course it is no coincidence that those promoting the idea of the Green New Deal are youth of our country. The ideas of the current governing generation are also fossilized.
Climate is way too serious an issue to dismiss the GND prematurely. We are all increasingly aware of the costs and consequences of the climate crisis. Failure to act is not an option. The discussion must now be on what’s the best way to act. Of course the vision is incomplete. This means improving the vision not dismissing it. It means digging in and doing some serious work and then implementing.
But here’s the deal. Like the Paris agreement, it seems unlikely in today’s political environment that national policy will move forward with both sides in agreement. I am hopeful that we can start a dialogue, but not naïve. While we desperately need a national climate and energy policy, it will be fought tooth and nail by the vested interests of fossil fuel. So while we are having this discussion, my question to those at the state and corporate level is, “What kind of future do you want? What’s your Green New Deal?”
‘We are all connected. Savor the Earth!’™
L. Hobart Stocking
*From Theodor Seuss Geisel’s Green Eggs and Ham