Last week, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes hosted a one-hour town hall with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and several other scholars and architects of the Green New Deal, including Demond Drummer and Grist 50 member Rhiana Gunn-Wright.
A recording of the town hall is online, and you should definitely watch it. The part that stood out most to me was that despite the Green New Deal’s popularity among voters, it’s been frustrating to push forward what’s necessary on climate change within the halls of Congress.
Leading the way among those advocating for big changes, of course, is Ocasio-Cortez herself. But many other congressional Democrats prefer a more incremental approach. During the town hall, she addressed this directly (starting at 9:25) in a segment framed by a question from the Justice Democrats’ Waleed Shahid: “What do they tell you behind the scenes?”
Ocasio-Cortez replied: “The dirty little secret is that it’s more about corporate donors. It’s more about who’s donating to you than who’s voting for you.”
She then described what it means to push for what’s needed: “It is stressful taking a stance, but this is not supposed to be a comfortable job we stay in our entire lives.”
There are real costs to taking a stand in Congress on climate change: At Trump rallies, people have started chanting “AOC sucks.” Standing up to the status quo means having the courage to say difficult truths in line with the broader scientific consensus. It means putting the vision of a better society ahead of your own personal comfort. And until more members of Congress follow AOC’s lead, the Green New Deal is going to be tantalizingly out of reach. Hopefully, Friday’s prime-time treatment encourages Democrats in Congress to take a more courageous stance.