Over the past few days, nearly everyone within arm’s reach of a keyboard seems to have weighed in on the Green New Deal, an ambitious framework for future congressional legislation. It aims to build a clean economy and eliminate the U.S. carbon footprint, while creating jobs and opportunity across the economic spectrum.
I’ll spare you from doing the media scan I did over the weekend. It was, in sum, predictable, mildly amusing and frustrating. Progressives and liberals loved the idea, if not all the specifics. Conservatives berated the GND as socialism or worse and seemed to lick their collective chops at the notion of making it part of the political discourse during the 2020 election cycle.
Most of these analyses seemed to miss the bigger point: Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, there’s a national conversation taking place about sustainability, in all its many forms.
Which is why most of the critiques of the Green New Deal strike me as small-minded and myopic. Yes, it’s a grand vision that’s vague on details. No, it’s not likely to be enacted in its current form. Yes, it can be improved in any number of ways. No, it’s not going away any time soon — both the left and right seem to want to keep it alive, each for its own reasons.
It’s a big idea, born of common sense, that potentially empowers and engages all Americans. We haven’t had an adult conversation about America’s future in a long, long time. Let’s explore it and figure out how some version of it can come to pass.
So, please stop for a second and celebrate the moment. After toiling for years in the veritable backwaters of society and the economy, sustainability — economic, social and environmental — is finally on the national agenda.
Then, after your all-too-brief celebration, get back to work. It’s time to dig in. This is our moment.