Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is making big moves. But on March 26, at least one of them seemed to stall. Ocasio-Cortez is championing a resolution to address climate change called the Green New Deal, which takes a two-pronged focus to make big changes to the economy and deal with climate change. But the first stumble in bringing the deal to fruition happened Tuesday, March 26, when the resolution was blocked on the Senate floor. However, Ocasio-Cortez did not go gently into that good night. This video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's response to the Green New Deal being called "elitist" is a big mood. Here. For. It.
On March 26, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led a vote on whether to take up the Green New Deal, in which it was blocked in a 57-0 vote. Many of the senators present, including the majority of Democrats, chose to vote "present," avoiding taking a stance on the issue one way or another, as the resolution was not expected to pass.
But that same day, Ocasio-Cortez reaffirmed the importance of the Deal in an impassioned speech that explained just why addressing climate change is a major issue for low-income communities, minority communities, and really, everyone. At a House Financial Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) called the Green New Deal "elitist," and Ocasio-Cortez was not having it. The freshman representative made it very clear that climate change is "not an elitist issue, it's a quality of life issue." Ocasio-Cortez said,
You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is ‘elitist’? Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx, which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint, whose kids — their blood is ascending in lead levels, their brains are damaged for the rest of their lives. Call them elitist. You’re telling them that those kids are trying to get on a plane to Davos? People are dying.
You can watch her full response here:
The Green New Deal was originally drawn up by activist groups the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led organization pushing for climate change, and Justice for Democrats, a political action committee that backed Ocasio-Cortez in the general election. Ocasio-Cortez, who is spearheading the effort along with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), laid out the goals of the policy package back in February. The main focus of the Green New Deal is to overhaul the economy in an effort to eliminate all U.S. carbon emissions, according to NPR. In order to achieve that final goal, the plan calls for transitioning into renewable energy sources and upgrading current infrastructure to be more "energy efficient." The package also focuses on planning and preparing for climate-change related natural disasters, overhauling the transportation system to get rid of pollution, and securing clean air, water, and healthy food for generations to come.
Targeting certain systems and industries like transportation isn't just about taking important climate-change related steps and helping the environment — as illustrated in the Green New Deal — it's about revitalizing these industries for financial and economic growth. Ben Beachy, Sierra Club Living economy program director, told Elite Daily in a December interview that climate change and the economy aren't mutually exclusive, and the Green New Deal has the potential to create way more jobs. "It's a played-out trope that we have to choose between clean air and water, and good jobs," said Beachy. "A green new deal would create millions of family-sustaining jobs. [Manufacturing employees] are the ones who'll be leading the way — they'll be manufacturing tomorrow's light rail system, improving buildings, replacing storm water systems ... there's a whole lot of work."
Beachy's point calls back to Ocasio-Cortez's response to the policy package being blocked. After all, there's nothing elitist about not wanting to have to go all Mad Max in a coming climate apocalypse.