As we continue through our Voice and Values month, we’re shifting our focus to various ways you can affect positive change by getting involved in the democratic process. The politics of climate change have been ever-present over the past decade, but they took center stage just last week. On February 7th, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) proposed a Green New Deal resolution that lays out a broad plan for combating climate change while also creating jobs and stimulating the US economy. While actual legislation is yet to come, there has already been much discussion on the topic in the past week, so we thought it might be helpful to simplify the political jargon and catch you up to speed on what’s happened since it was proposed.
What is the Green New Deal?
You might remember learning about FDR’s solution to the Great Depression in high school history class. The New Deal was the umbrella term for a large collection of federal projects and programs that FDR enacted in order to revitalize the American economy. The Green New Deal is based on a similar concept and contends that a comprehensive plan to enact a number of regulatory climate measures will also create jobs. It’s been discussed theoretically by the Democratic party for quite some time, but until now there hasn’t been any kind of concrete resolution.
As the actual resolution is still in its early stages the document is somewhat vague, but it includes a number of ambitious and necessary goals, like getting the US to net zero greenhouse gas emissions, providing clean air and water, and creating sustainable infrastructure, as well as a number of strategies for reaching those goals.
Again, while the resolution would not have the force of law even if passed, it has been a hot topic of discussion on both sides of the aisle in the past week. President Trump and many members of the Republican Party have strongly spoken out against the resolution, claiming that it’s “zany” and “loony” and will lead to Democratic supporters losing their seats when they’re up for reelection. Even some Democrats have been skeptical, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who was seemingly unconvinced when first asked about her reaction to the resolution. However, there is also a wide range of supporters on Capitol Hill and around the country that see the resolution as a powerful move to bring climate change concern back into the national spotlight. Even some who have shown skepticism about the plan itself have admitted that we have to start somewhere, and as the conversation continues there should be more solutions raised and more concrete action in the right direction.
What to expect and how to interpret
While there are 60 Democratic members of the House in support of the resolution, there is still a very long way to go before anything officially happens. A number of Democratic supporters of the plan are running for president in 2020, so it will likely be a popular topic in campaigns and debates, but it’s hard to tell how it will materialize after that. Look for a number of the broader themes in the resolution to become higher priorities in the near future, but don’t expect a lot of legislative or regulatory changes at the federal level. Either way, if you’re an environmentalist or any kind of supporter of climate change action, the Green New Deal should come as a positive sign that the US is moving in the right direction and will hopefully reemerge as a leader on these issues in the future.
What can I do?
No matter where you live, call your representatives (Senators first as McConnell says the Senate will vote on it soon) and let them know if you support the Green New Deal.
It's a work in progress and will continue to be. It's better than what else is out there (there isn't much else) and we need to show that we want climate action. Let's tell them that we want action on climate change. If you aren't sure, read the resolution for yourself, it is only 12 pages, and it is only that long due to the way Congress formats documents.
How can I reach out to my representative?
There are various ways to reach out to your representatives these days, but first, make sure you know who to reach out to.
Who is my representative?
Find out who represents you at WhoIsMyRepresentative.com.
Ways to Contact:
There are mixed reviews on which is the best method, call, letter, email, twitter, fax (yes, that's still an option). It usually depends on who they are but after we've looked into it, we think these are the most effective by order.
1. Calling: Call your representative directly or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. We recommend calling their district office, not just their DC one.
2. Letter / Email: Find their contact info from above and
3. Social Media: While phone calls and letters may still carry more weight in the eyes of some lawmakers and congressional aides, contacting your legislators through social media can have it's advantages because it's occurring in the public eye. When you comment on your legislator’s Facebook page or send a tweet, other constituents can read your message which can start a discussion, increase awareness, and encourage others to do as well.
4. Fax... How do you still have a fax machine?
What do I say?
350.org has a great template to follow to show you endorse the deal
Just have 5 mins?
There's an app for that: https://resist.bot/ Well sorta an app.
Text the word "
resist" to the resist bot on Messenger, Twitter, Telegram, or to 50409 on SMS and the bot will find out who represents you in Congress or your state legislature, turn your text into an email, fax, or postal letter, and deliver it to your officials. Done!
Stay up to date:There are now digital tools for policy updates.
You can track the legislation your elected officials have proposed or contributed to in some way by browsing their respective websites, ie. Green New Deal.
One tool for this is Countable, which enables you to track pending legislation, learn more about it and contact your rep directly with your views.