The (Green) New Deal

JAVON PRICE: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — who, besides from being the best thing since sliced bread in the Democratic Party, is the youngest women ever elected to Congress — has introduced her first resolution as a Congresswoman. We have all seen it, the Green New Deal, which superficially offers a formula for the country to address climate change.

Taken at face value, it seems to be a noble cause which any reasonable American should and would support. As a young conservative myself, I accept the fact that climate change is a reality and that we humans have indeed played a mostly negligent role in addressing it. Though I remain skeptical of how badly our negligence has harmed the environment, I believe that, as a nation, we should seek to appropriately address the issue. 

However, the bill is not as earnestly focused on the environment as it is portrayed. As David French writes in a recent National Review article on the Green New Deal, “Progressivism is the priority, not environmentalism.”

The bill makes several apparently misleading assumptions. For example, it claims “climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction have exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices … by disproportionately affecting indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.”

Now, when deconstructing the Green New Deal, a question arises: how does Ocasio-Cortez make this correlation between the effects of climate change — and how we address them — with systemic racism, income inequality, and “economic injustices?” I think it is entirely fair to say rising global temperatures have nothing to do with addressing America’s original sin of slavery. The pursuit and financing of renewable energy sources are not going to help solve the wealth gap in this country. Furthermore, to suggest that lowering greenhouse emissions will somehow solve the economic injustices in this nation is asinine.

While many of the premises of her argument in support of the Green New Deal are unfounded, her solutions are equally, if not more, hollow. One can respect her ambition to confront climate change, but her proposed solutions make the bill extremely difficult for many to support. The resolution suggests upgrading “all existing buildings in the United States … to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability.” Another section suggests “guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.”

Now, depending on one’s political leanings, one might argue that guaranteeing a universal basic income and upgrading the infrastructure of the nation are objectives we should seek. But, that’s just the point: The Green New Deal is a load of progressive policies packaged as climate change legislation. As a conservative, I do not believe in a universal basic income because I do not believe that we should raise taxes on working Americans to guarantee an income for those who do not work. And while repairing our crumbling infrastructure is a goal that has garnered support from the right, it is absurd to enforce environmental standards on every single building standing in the United States. Remember, these solutions were formulated to help address, among other issues, systemic racism, sexism, and income inequality.

Additionally, while the bill pursues an universal basic income and the renovation of all buildings in the country, it does not contain a single line about nuclear energy. This is quite an oversight for a bill purporting to address climate change, considering that many countries  —  France, Costa Rica, Sweden to name a few  —  have positively reduced their environmental impact with the expansion of nuclear energy.

After analyzing the bill, it becomes enormously clear why it has catalyzed conservative opposition. Again, this is not to say that we should not take steps to address climate change in this country. I believe we should. We cannot not kick the can down the road for other generations to deal with as it would be a relinquishment of our responsibility to each other as Americans. But, if we want to address racism, sexism, income inequality, and climate change in this country, as we undoubtedly should, the Green New Deal is not the answer. It comes across as more of a contemporary New Deal hiding behind the veil of environmentalism than any serious attempt to confront the issues that face our country.

Conservatives and liberals alike should oppose the Green New Deal and instead propose realistic, relevant, and measurable goals to combat climate change. It is not fair to the American people to hide such a prodigious transformation of the American political-economic system under the guise of environmentalism.


Jeff Cirillo