We have now seen the Green New Deal get shot down in the Senate. It wasn’t just shut down though. It was shut out. The final vote ended up being 57-0 with 43 Democrats voting present.
What is fascinating about this outcome is that the resolution’s sponsor in the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, tweeted the following:
She encouraged people not to vote for the Senate form of her resolution simply because Republicans would not hold hearings on climate change prior to bringing this resolution to a vote.
Let me ask you this though. Would anything have changed about the resolution itself if those hearings had taken place? Perhaps a few minds would have been changed if the Democrats had their way. I don’t know whether or not that would have the case, but the content of the resolution itself would have remained as it is right now. Therefore, the Democrats’ position should have remained unchanged; it is the Republicans that Democrats were hoping to convince to change based on having hearings with expert testimony.
Now, keep in mind that you have people who cosponsored the resolution in the Senate, including presidential hopefuls Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand. They all of a sudden failed to have the fortitude and strength of character to vote in favor of a resolution that they actually said that they supported when it was politically expedient to do so. They wanted all of the publicity of being associated with this progressive movement headlined by AOC, but when the chips were down and it was time to be counted, they simply would not come out in favor of it.
With AOC providing cover by encouraging them not to vote for what they felt was a type of sham and rushed vote without hearings, that didn’t really cover the utter lack of principle here. I would guarantee you that if I was ever in a political position to vote on the issue of abortion, even if I was the only one standing on my own advocating for life, I would still make that vote. Even if I felt like there were some political maneuvers going on behind the scenes that I did not think were legitimate or fair, my vote would remain the same. Why? Because I believe it is an issue of life and death. I would vote against abortion while simultaneously calling out any perceived unfairness I believed might be at play.
The way that Democrats were talking when they signed on to support this resolution, you would think that they felt the same way. You would believe they had principles. For example, according to The Hill, Harris explained how, regarding climate change, “We do not fight this fight for our generation alone but for generations to come.” Booker said, “Doing nothing is not an option right now because our planet really is in peril.”
It sounds like they believe this is a pretty important issue as well. In fact, it is an issue of life and death. You would think that they would stand on the principles and vote for it while simultaneously calling out any political maneuvering they saw from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. That’s the principled thing to do. Stand up for what you believe in.
The fact that they failed to stand up for their principles leads me to the only logical conclusion. The Green New Deal was never supported in principle by these Democrats. They realized the impossibility of many of its proposals. That being said, their political opportunism got the best of them. They wanted to ride the progressive bandwagon under the assumption that in a Republican-controlled Senate, they could safely assume it would never make it to any type of vote. When it did, they knew they could not get caught in this type of inconsistency, and the party at large gave them cover by simply refusing to vote as a bloc. After all, they did not want to see their own candidates support an impossible policy on the record, a record that would be highly damaging in the 2020 general election.
Do you doubt my conclusion? If I am wrong, then why, according to ABC News, in an article that largely appears to be sympathetic to Democrats, do we find the following? “In an attempt to redirect the conversation to the issue of climate change, all 47 Democrats in the Senate introduced a new, more basic climate change resolution on Thursday [would have been February 28, the day before this referenced article was published]. Like the Green New Deal the resolution doesn’t carry any legal weight but sends a message that climate change is important and Congress should do something about it, without any specific policy attached.”
If they really believed in the Green New Deal, why did they refuse to stand up for it? Let me tell you. They didn’t. They grabbed a politically convenient opportunity for headlines. There is nothing more to it than that. They prepared a different proposal when they thought that they might have to go on the record with their support for it. Why? They knew it was a bad idea and they had gone too far.
You see, this was never a question of principles. It was blatant opportunism, and they got caught. The party provided cover as we saw today, but they exposed a severe lack of courage and consistency for any of the 2020 Democratic candidates in the Senate. Was this entire vote a maneuver by McConnell? Absolutely. I don’t deny that. That said, was it also a moment for Democrats to actually stand up for what they said they believed in? Absolutely. The fact that they did not speaks volumes about their character. They simply lack principle at the end of the day.