If AOC didn't want to be compared to the Tea Party, she shouldn't have thrown her weight behind the Green New Deal

The GND would completely restructure the US economy. Ocasio-Cortez waved away concerns that 'the whole government' would change at her MSNBC town hall, but failed to address some very real American concerns

Jay Caruso
Washington DC
Monday 01 April 2019 21:14 BST
Trump rally chants 'AOC sucks' as her push for 'Green New Deal' gains traction

A year ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held a job as a bartender, engaging in political activism part-time. Now, she's the Democratic representative for New York's 14th congressional district and pushing the Green New Deal, a policy which represents massive government intervention in the US economy.

In a recent MSNBC town hall with Chris Hayes, Ocasio-Cortez sat down to discuss the GND and make a case for its necessity. She said the country should "have a serious conversation" about the Green New Deal, and that it should happen sooner rather than later.

The hour-long town hall featured plenty of soundbites, applause-inducing declarations, and far-fetched statements. These weren’t, despite her pleas about serious conversations, particularly serious words.

Ocasio-Cortez's view of the United States in its current form is, at times, almost post-apocalyptic. At one point she said, "To get out of this situation, we have to create dignified jobs for working Americans, to guarantee healthcare, and elevate our educational opportunities. We will have to mobilise our economy around saving ourselves and taking care of this planet."

The numbers don't align with her outlook. The current unemployment rate in the US is 3.8 per cent, and the Labor Department reported the existence of 7.6 million job openings across the country. More people than ever before are attending college and have college degrees.

Another tactic employed by Ocasio-Cortez when asked to defend the Green New Deal was to tick off a list of American problems as if the GND will serve as a magic elixir to cure them all. "People are dying because their insulin is skyrocketing. Kids are getting sent to schools with lead in the water,” she said during the town hall. She did the same in an impassioned speech talking about floods in Nebraska and the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.

What she never does, however, is explain how her plan solves those issues or why it involves the intervention of the federal government. How will the Green New Deal address the issue of insulin prices, Flint Michigan's water issue and flooding in Nebraska? It’s extremely unclear.

At one point during that MSNBC discussion, tagged as 'The Case for the Green New Deal,’ AOC said, "This does not mean we change our entire structure of government. But what it means is that we need to do something! Something. And that's what this solution is all about.” But this misses the point entirely. No criticism of the Green New Deal invokes the argument it will change the structure of government. People do argue it will change the structure of the economy with such a high level of government intervention. That’s something she has yet to address.

The simple fact is that nothing gets Ocasio-Cortez more excited than pretending we're on the precipice of a cataclysmic scenario. She said the need to pass the Green New Deal comes from the notion that "we have an expiration date." She classified those who favor caution as an attitude of one that is "privileged and removed from reality." Her pessimistic outlook is informed by the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that she says claims we have "12 years to turn it around."

But the IPCC report isn't quite as urgent as AOC makes it seem. They do make arguments for what would happen in the worst-case scenario, and that involves a situation in which humanity makes no attempts to curb carbon emissions at all.

Ironically, Ocasio-Cortez made the argument for those urging a slower approach than what she wants. At one point, she invoked the 9/11 attacks, saying the government decided to go to war in two countries as a knee-jerk reaction — wars she argued were utterly unnecessary. The 9/11 attacks also paved the way for The Patriot Act, sweeping legislation that created a climate for the government to infringe on civil liberties. That's what happens when people urge the government to immediately "do something" in the face of what some say is a "crisis."

Unfortunately for the Democratic Party, legislators such as Ocasio-Cortez see not only Republicans as a bulwark to their agenda, but other Democrats as well, and she said as much during the town hall. She bristled at the comparison of her movement to the Tea Party, but it's not hard to see how the argument is valid. Democratic House gains in 2018 were not a green light for a massive expansion of government that throws caution to the wind.

If AOC continues down the path she's chosen, it could spell trouble for Nancy Pelosi (who has mockingly referred to the GND as “the green dream, or whatever they call it”) holding on to her Speaker’s gavel. The American people aren't ready for something like the Green New Deal and Ocasio-Cortez, contrary to what she and her supporters say, is not making the right case for its passage.

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