A little more than a month into her induction, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is already making tremendous headway among the big leagues. If only the restriction on age did her any favours, she would have undoubtedly considered a shot at the Presidency. At such an early stage in her career, she has a considerable number of Democrats rallying around and a greater number weighing political advantages for an ideological allegiance of sorts with her calls for ultra-left wing progressive reforms; an allegiance that disputes basic right wing conservatism in addition to, and much to the chagrin of one Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat establishment. It is an allegiance worded around a Resolution on the ‘Green New Deal’ (GND) in the House by Cortez and in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey.
The GND is the most progressive movement for the introduction of policies tackling climate change not just because of its recognition of climate change in a traditionally intransigent Congress but because of its introduction to the people at a time when Democrats consider a shift in narrative after retaking the House, as both parties recharge Presidential campaigns for 2020. Though as progressive in rhetoric as it sounds, the GND has yet to cement its place in Federal legislature and its role in championing the case for climate change.
It is an allegiance worded around a Resolution on the ‘Green New Deal’ (GND) in the House by Cortez and in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey.
Difficulties in achieving the latter, despite great potential, have to with the intricacies in the GND itself. The deal, initially intended to help move the discourse on climate change into the realm of American policymaking has instead, at the behest of those holding the reins, come to be seen as a model in left wing political governance with enough an element of socialist principles for the Republican establishment to denigrate it as a violation of American conscience and a majority of Democrats to vicariously watch the show unfold. It includes measures pertinent not only to tackle rapid climate change to introduce political and economic resolutions to complement climate change reform. The deal is after all, indicative of new inductees to the Congress, the likes of which Ocasio Cortez have come to symbolize. It calls for the immediate reduction leading ultimately to ‘net-zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Shoring up more opposition against itself from the Republicans is the guarantee for the provision of federal jobs in environment friendly ventures. Instating and encouraging such ventures is tantamount to public investment at scale. Furthermore, the deal vows to help people struck most by the perils of climate change and an asymmetric public policy dealing with jobs growth within communities of ethnic minorities. All in all, it is a project that might not reach promised levels even in the case of a Democrat President in 2020 but is certainly a standard for green policymaking in months ahead.
The GND, citing the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s report late last year, calls for an immediate recession of greenhouse contributions in a bid to decarbonise the American economy. The report, after exhaustive studies, has declared that in 12 years’ time, the impact of climate change on the environment will be rendered irreparable. To not worsen the average rise in temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius, the workable standard, greenhouse gases ought to be reduced by 45 per cent of the levels seen in 2010 by 2030. The report explains the urgency on part of the Democratic caucus supporting the GND.
The political rhetoric around the GND has reached a fever pitch. Nancy Pelosi has yet to completely warm up to the idea of a new inductee to the House heading the charge for radical climate reform. While political activities unrelated to the developments around the GND have occupied much of her time and grit, she will ultimately need to define her position on the deal. The urgency to do is certainly intensified given that Democrats announcing presidential bids are endorsing Ocasio Cortez’s plan in scores. Given that candidates in primaries tend stick to the poles of the ideological spectrum in an attempt to win over both moderate voters and those that who identify with the extremes. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and John Delaney have offered some semblance of support for the GND while launching their presidential campaigns. The most welcoming and notable endorsement comes from Senator Elizabeth Warren, who despite her calls for universal healthcare and public investment is adheres to capitalist principles. Her support for the GND throughout the course of her campaign will be offer interesting insight into the future of the deal among senior establishment figures. For now, presidential candidates can declare support for the ‘concept’ behind the GND without much political backlash because the movement itself is yet to figure out a concrete policy narrative. Candidates can play around the idea of a GND, making selective use of it where they see fit.
To not worsen the average rise in temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius, the workable standard, greenhouse gases ought to be reduced by 45 per cent of the levels seen in 2010 by 2030. The report explains the urgency on part of the Democratic caucus supporting the GND.
The lack of countenance from Pelosi renders the GND more political ambiguity as its future among America’s legislature hangs in the balance regardless of widespread acceptance within and advocacy from the progressive segment of the American population. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader intends to hold a vote on the GND to fill that very vacuum. McConnell intends to unambiguously establish stances for and against the GND among the Democrat and Republican Party. While such a vote will mean all the same for Cortez and fresh inductees to the Congress allying themselves with the Deal, senior lawmakers from the party will have to unequivocally stand on either side of the debate. Regardless of the result, a vote will bring to the fore the GND and will enable a more robust debate into the legislative and political workings of the deal. For the deal, greater scrutiny might just ensure its survival.
The GND is reflective of the transition in American politics. Young people find it easier to express themselves politically outside the walls of the Congress and now inside the Hill with representatives like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar voicing long held concerns over the state of conservative and progressive governance. Henceforth, the deal is symbolic not just of a resolution trying to make it through Congress but of a shift in American politics that many would argue, was long due.
is an M-Phil graduate of International Relations with minors in political economy from National Defense University. His areas of research include Foreign and Domestic European Affairs. He is currently working as a Research Associate at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research.