Steven David Martin

Steven David Martin

Much shade has been thrown toward the Green New Deal, some from actual shady people.

What is going on here? On one hand we continually bemoan the preponderance of negativity and ask for positive solutions to our myriad problems; on the other hand, when a bold, far-reaching, admittedly aggressive proposal is shared, it meets with scorn, derision and farting cow memes; and on yet another hand we mock those born with three hands. It’s an explosion of ridiculous attacks reminiscent of Sarah Palin ominous and completely bogus Obamacare-funded death panel claims.

Oh Sarah, your egregious lies seem so quaint now. As soon as the GND (yes, I am very hip; thanks for noticing) was announced, various pundits couldn’t resist lambasting the deal’s nonexistent call for bans on air travel, hamburgers, nuclear energy and a “Golden Girls” reboot. Here are the basic tenets of the GND that unleashed this tsunami of vitriol: Shift our power to renewable resources; build a nationwide smart grid; upgrade buildings to be energy efficient; decarbonize and update the U.S. infrastructure; address climate change; provide universal health care; create millions of good high wage jobs; work with farmers and ranchers on reducing methane; guarantee all Americans access to health care, housing, clean air, water and affordable food.

Damn socialists.

So who‘s against that? Apparently those who latched onto the admittedly unfortunate farting cows comment and can’t be bothered to actually read the 14-page document. 14 pages!

And by the way, it is a non-binding resolution. Meaning it cannot be passed into law; it is a jumping off point, an outline for action.

Could we achieve everything in it? Doubtful.

Can we afford it? Well, until it is fleshed out more with those nagging details, we just don’t know. While many are quick to shriek that it would put us trillions of dollars in debt, the same folks won’t bat an eye (or eye a bat) while throwing billions at the military. And should we dare ask how we could find money for military construction but not for combatting climate change, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, Chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee said, “I predict there’d be no trouble in the appropriations committee to backfill military construction.”

Asked where the funds would come from to backfill military funding, the economic whiz that is Shelby responded: “From money. Where do we fill everything else?”

Sage words indeed. My point … I had one around here somewhere … is that it’s very easy to belittle and mock (you’ve read my stuff), much harder to put forth an ambitious idea that is perhaps a bit unwieldy, a bit ambitious, but at its heart actually has a heart. I appreciate there are people out there willing to take a stand, to propose action, to kickstart the dialogue we so desperately need.

I imagine Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) would tell you that they do not expect this plan to be adopted into law as is (remember non-binding resolution), I would bet they hope it spurs debate and conversation, bringing disparate side together to discus, debate and collaborate on possible solutions. So while slings and arrows are inevitably slung wily nily (two clichés in one phrase!) this is a dialogue that shouldn't be disdainfully dismissed by the gaggle of glib talking heads (not the good David Byrne type).

So yeah, I may kvetch, I may needle and poke, I may lampoon, but ultimately I, like most of you, still hold out hope for the future because of audacious people like Ocasio-Cortez, people who are not afraid to risk vicious ridicule because they believe in something larger than self.

People like the passionately committed Parkland students, like teen environmental activists Greta Thunberg and Jamie Margolin. Inspirations to me, and true leaders for a generation of change.

Our politicians routinely and cavalierly invoke the abstract concept of American greatness. But the actual greatness that built this land, that kept us at the forefront of innovation for more than two centuries doesn’t come from a baseball cap or from intimidation, insults or bullying, it comes from character, conviction and courage.

Speaking of courage, when did it become foolish — and un-American — to dare to dream? How about we give the green light to look into the potential (and identify the pitfalls) of this Green New Deal; we have to start somewhere, and start soon.

Steven welcomes your comments. You can reach him at stevendavidmartin@gmail.com.

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