Following is the Theory of Change from the Sunrise Movement Plan:
Stopping climate change means completely updating our energy, transit and food systems. This will require aggressive action at every level of government, sustained for many years in a row. History shows that two ingredients are needed to make this type of sweeping change:
1. People Power: a large, vocal, and active base of public support
2. Political Power: a critical mass of supportive elective officials
One of the reasons I’ve joined the Sunrise Movement is because of the vision of the Green New Deal, and Sunrise’s well designed plan to implement it. But another reason is because of the energy and enthusiasm of thousands of youth who are engaging with the political process. We should be grateful these young people still have enough faith in our political system to work within it.
I don’t think many people in Congress understand how committed and organized these youth are about climate change and the Green New Deal. As I’ve been saying, this is not politics as usual. These kids have lived their entire lives with the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. They understand there will be increasingly severe and frequent climate catastrophes. During one of our training sessions, we split into small groups to share how climate change has affected us personally. EVERY person had been personally impacted. That adds to the urgency these youth feel. #NoExcuses.
Sen. Feinstein is not the first to dismiss the Green New Deal. But I see it as a clear example of why the establishment politicians who don’t support the Green New Deal should not expect the support of the youth, who will be looking for another candidate to support in a given political district.
Although democracy has been under attack by the Republican Administration, these young people still believe they can create change in Congress. That makes the response of Sen Feinstein all the more discouraging. The Sunrise Plan (above) says, of political power, “Politicians care about getting elected. When we’re able to deliver large numbers of volunteers and votes to the campaigns of our choosing, candidates’ stand on climate change will become the difference between winning and losing. Candidates will notice and begin to stand with us once we have the power to swing races (which was accomplished in several of the midterm election races). Here’s how:
- Unseating politicians who accept campaign donations from Big Oil executives and stand in the way of climate action
- Electing leaders who will stand up for the health and well being of all people.
The video clip shows part of a Friday morning meeting between Feinstein and young activists from the Sunrise Movement. Founded in 2017, the group organizes young people to fight climate change and support the Green New Deal.‘You didn’t vote for me’: California senator responds to young activists on Green New Deal , Lois Beckett, The Guardian, 2/22/2019
When Feinstein pushes back on the young activists’ request, one child says: “The government is supposed to be for the people, by the people, and all for the people.”
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’ve been doing,” Feinstein responds. “You come in here and say it has to be my way or the highway. I’ve gotten elected. I just ran. I was elected by almost a million vote plurality and I know what I’m doing. Maybe people should listen a little bit.”
“I hear what you’re saying,” a teenage activist says. “But we’re the people who voted you, you’re supposed to listen to us.”
“How old are you?” Feinstein asks her.
“I’m 16,” the young woman responds.
“Well, you didn’t vote for me,” Feinstein says.
Feinstein’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The senator reacted “with smugness + disrespect”, the Sunrise Movement tweeted on Friday, sharing a video clip of the meeting. “Her reaction is why young people desperately want new leadership in Congress.”
Later in the clip, Feinstein tells a young activist, “Well, you know better than I do. So I think one day you should run for the United States Senate and then you do it your way.”
“Great, I will,” the teenager responded.
Following is the response from some of my friends in the Sunrise Movement Bay Area: