I had to stop and think yesterday when I read something about bipartisanship and the Green New Deal. I was shocked, actually.
The point was being made in the context of needing votes from both parties to pass legislation (if neither party has sufficient numbers to pass the legislation on its own).
These discussion are often nuanced, with valid points on both sides.
I know there will be immediate objections when I start to talk about what is correct vs what is wrong, and who is the judge of that. This is especially true when it comes to issues of personal and community values.
It was once possible to make arguments based on facts but the current political climate has been successful in persuading some that there are alternative facts.
To be specific, what shocked me was the argument that we need bipartisanship if a Green New Deal is going to be passed.
That is wrong.
That’s like suggesting a bipartisan plan to go to war. To make the plan bipartisan, one zone of the enemy’s territory would be designated a peace zone with no fighting allowed there.
That would be like suggesting certain corporations should be allowed to pollute, while the rest of us are doing the work of the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal (GND) calls for a complete mobilization of the country to switch to 100% renewable energy in a just manner, in one decade. This scope and urgency is our last hope for possibly preventing runaway global burning.
The reason the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats usually only engage with Democrats is because the Republican party continues to resist the extent of the climate chaos, how rapidly it is coming at us, and what we should to about it. Any Republicans who embrace the Green New Deal, and refuse to accept any fossil fuel money, would be supported.
One of the main goals of the Sunrise Movement is to campaign for the election of progressive candidates of either party who refuse fossil fuel money and support the GND. The Sunrise Movement might be campaigning for Republicans in some races, or for Democratic candidates different from those selected by the party leadership in certain primary elections.
As I recently wrote in Not Politics as Usual, this requirement to refuse fossil fuel money and support the GND might split the Democratic party. The Sunrise Movement is not going to endorse candidates, Republican or Democrat, who don’t. I don’t think politicians realize, yet, what a force the youth behind the Green New Deal represent.
1. We support candidates who, if elected, would represent a significant break with the status quo for their district. We want candidates who take major leaps forward in one or more of our policy priority areas (see below). This looks different in different parts of America.
2. We support politicians who will represent us, not the fossil fuel industry. Whether or not a candidate is willing to take money from the oil, gas and coal industry is a fairly clear litmus test of whose interests that politician is likely to represent.
In primary elections, we only endorse candidates who take the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” to “reject contributions from the oil, gas, and coal industry and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.”
In general elections, we may support (but not endorse) a candidate who has not signed the pledge or has taken money from the fossil fuel industry because we recognize that an imperfect candidate could, in some cases, still represent a significant leap forward (see above) by defeating a powerful opponent with a long history of putting the interests of oil and gas executives first. No matter what, we will make this a major demand for general elections and push candidates on this issue.
3. No permanent friends. No permanent enemies. Our only permanent allegiance is to protecting our communities, our shared home, and our future. We have to make it clear to politicians that our power and support are earned, and not a given. Just because we have supported a candidate in the past doesn’t mean that we will continue to support them in the future if there emerges (or the movement puts forth) a viable candidate that is better aligned with and more committed to our values and policy priorities.
We are at a precipice. Our only hope is to embrace the ideas of a Green New Deal and implement them as soon as possible.