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New Deal Not Perfect, But Don’t Let That Stop You from Supporting the Green New Deal

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Socialism Will Win if we choose our teachable moments carefully and deploy our lectures with restraint.
Not our 2020 campaign poster…

I’ve mentioned Democratic Socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal as one proper response to the real harms of climate change. It’s also an opportunity for socialists to organize and save the planet… if they can restrain their impulse to didacticism:

SOCIALISTS CAN and should disagree with Ocasio-Cortez’s ahistorical and uncritical praise of the original New Deal — including how it was a reluctant response to mass social upheaval and made disastrous concessions to racism.

But we should also recognize the Green New Deal (GND) proposal as a tremendous opportunity to organize around the most comprehensive and radical climate reform proposal put forward to date on a national level — not just in the U.S., but possibly anywhere [Zachary Alexis, “Winning the Green New Deal We Need,” Socialist Worker, 2018.12.12].

The critique of the FDR’s sacrosanct New Deal here is like green peppers on pizza: tasty and good for you, but not to be overdone. When people come over for supper, you don’t just hand them a plate of green peppers; you give ’em pizza with a few green peppers gleaming amidst the cheese, and maybe a robust salad on the side, chock full of your garden veggies, if your guests are interested.

We Democrats, socialists, and other members of the Resistance have lots of historical lessons to teach. But we also have volunteers to recruit, votes to win, bills to pass, and a planet to save. Congresswoman-Elect Ocasio-Cortez is to be excused for implicitly endorsing an imperfect Depression-era reform program with her adoption of a phrase coined by reasonable capitalist Thomas Friedman; she has a planet to save, and we should help her.

Related Political Critique: Congresswoman-Elect Ocasio-Cortez wishes “Merry Christmas” to everyone, “including refugee babies in mangers + their parents,” then responds to anti-immigrant grouches and nitpickers with a Catholic priest’s explanation that, yes, Joseph and Mary really were refugees. Ocasio-Cortez can make the main policy point, but if you really want to go down the trail of historical detail, she can take you there and tear you apart.


  1. Donald Pay 2018-12-26 09:09

    Well, there’s a lot packed into this post. History is important, but most people are ignorant of the real history of this country. The New Deal was a new deal for whites only. Blacks were cut out of the New Deal completely in the South and other states highly restricted New Deal benefits to minorities. Eventually minorities were cut in on the Deal, but by then it was hardly new.

    The hard fact of racism is that it makes people do self-destructive things. The New Deal wouldn’t have passed if it guaranteed everyone was treated the same. So, FDR turned a blind eye to cutting out minorities from the New Deal to get it passed and implemented by a racist nation.

    Racism is, of course, a large part of how we deal with environmental problems. It’s no surprise that hazardous waste dumps get planned and built in minority communities. The impacts of pollution are visited most heavily on minority neighborhoods. In South Dakota in the 1980s and 90s Indian communities were under constant threat of nuclear, medical, hazardous and solid waste dumps. In South Dakota those threats were slightly more equally felt, but tribes fended off many such threats that didn’t receive much notice in the white press.

    I was a socialist for a time in the 1970s, but the socialist agenda back then was not very environmentally conscious, and I tired of the ridiculous arguments over trivia. I’m enough of a realist to understand that socialism has its downside, along with some upside. I actually prefer a mixed economy, where you get the benefits of both and you mix and match as conditions require.

    Certainly we don’t need Trump’s socialist Wall, even if it has solar cells. Walls, ovens to kill and dispose of people and such accoutrements of the totalitarian state are not made better by being solar powered.

  2. Donald Pay 2018-12-26 09:24

    If you are getting your information for God’s Word, ie., the Bible, and depending on which Gospel you are reading, there are any number of stories about the refugee status of the Jesus, Mary and Joseph family, if we are defining “family” loosely. God, of course, directed the writers of these “Gospels” to put in various and sundry contradictory stories about Jesus. In “Love, Actually” there is a lobster, along with shepherds, the Wise Men, and such that supposedly showed up. I actually think that is as close to the truth as the various Gospel versions.

  3. Debbo 2018-12-26 14:15

    More US governmental history is available here in “Laws and Sausages,” in comic or graphic form. Looks interesting.

    There’s a comic making the rounds on Twitter and FB that shows Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus with the 3 wise guys just arriving. They see Mary sitting up in bed with a thick book, reading and taking notes while Joseph is sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed holding the baby and cooing to him. Very sweet and tweaks the white patriarchal imagery presented by the RCC post Council of Nicea.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-26 17:36

    Donald, maybe the -ism we really need is Get-Stuff-Done-ism.

    You’re right: there is a lot packed into just that one passage (thanks in part to the joy of hyperlinks!). We do need history. Everyone should read Howard Zinn and other critical historians. But I also don’t want to make every member of Congress stop and read all several hundred pages of Zinn before they vote to pass Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal.

    That said, the more we know about our history, the more attentive we can be in crafting new policies to at least avoid making institutional discrimination worse. If we’re really good, we can maybe even use the Green New Deal to root out some environmental racism.

  5. Robert McTaggart 2018-12-27 09:50

    Yes, we’ll need renewables, efficiency, and energy storage, but if you want to power the globe out of poverty without emitting carbon, you will need nuclear. If you don’t provide the amount of carbon-free power when people want it….they will burn fossil fuel (just as we do today).

    Good news Cory: The Congress actually passed a BIPARTISAN bill to help develop advanced reactors.

    “S.512, better known as the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), seeks to provide a program to develop the expertise and regulatory processes needed to allow innovation and commercialization of advanced nuclear reactors. Along with establishing transparency and accountability measures in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) budget and fee programs, it develops a regulatory framework to enable licensing of advanced nuclear reactors. It also seeks to make uranium regulation more efficient. ”

  6. Porter Lansing 2018-12-27 10:10

    Good news, indeed. Modernization is progress and progress is sorely needed.

  7. John 2018-12-27 13:51

    We should embrace the coming US green deal. It will assist the US’s transition to being the world’s second power to China’s red deal.

    China’s path to being the world’s dominate power was not pretty – but then neither was the US’s (which used racism and industrial theft to achieve its century domination). All things must pass: Roman civilization, the Dark Ages, the Dutch/Spanish/French/German/UK economic dominating world affairs. Recall that the United Kingdom retreated from its dominance a century ago. Recall that the “world reserve currency” is a trailing and not a leading indicator. Recall that such transitions are never smooth, nor straight-line.

    Trump’s nonsense cancelling the Trans-Pacific Trade Pact, peacetime deficits, tariffs, xenophobia, etc., accelerate the US to the world’s second leading power.

    China’s top 5 contributions to foreign aid are 26.3 times greater than provided by the US. China, and not the US, will have a far greater sway in world economics, politics, and processes.

    Modernization in the US, and in the world, is sorely needed.

  8. Debbo 2018-12-27 14:20

    John, I’ve been thinking about our standing in the world’s power structure.

    I’d say we were the greatest power on planet Earth without question till 2017. Now? Very much up for debate. By the time we get Lying Lunatic and the Pootiepublicans out of the WH and power we won’t be the Greatest Power. Democrats will have a lot of rebuilding to do.

    I don’t think we’ll return to the position of Sole Greatest Power, but we will be a Great and Powerful Nation. I think due to that we’ll also become a kinder nation, perhaps of 52 states of Puerto Rico and DC.

  9. John 2018-12-27 20:55

    Debbo, I do not disagree. Normally it is relatively easy to point to a threshold world turning point. Perhaps with hindsight, historians will point to ours. It may be 2017. It may be earlier or later. The trend is irrefutable.

    The United Kingdom’s was 1913-14. Those are the years of “peak coal” and their Great War bleeding white. The US emerged as the unquestioned world leader after that Great War; though likely had that position a decade or more earlier, waiting for the playing out of affirming events. President Eisenhower cemented the UK’s fate when threatening to call their WWII loans to get the belligerents to back-off and return their island at the Suez Crisis, 1956. The long-neutered bulldog was put down.

    The result of wars often defined other turnings of world leaders. Hopefully, the US may have learned from history, that there are options for a peaceful transition as the worlds leading economy and nation.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-29 08:04

    John makes a great point about how China’s savvy and America’s stupidity are converging to end our supremacy and usher in the Chinese Century. Add China’s willingness to work on climate change in stark contrast to Trump’s fossil-fueled rejection of plain science and global risk, and the world sees China as a better neighbor than us.

  11. Porter Lansing 2018-12-29 09:36

    America “We’re Number Two” hip hip hooray. The China Century is inevitable and only proper. The World’s culture needs to be tweaked every hundred years, or so anyway. There’s a segment of my family who’s always been involved in foreign exchange student opportunities. We’ve had kids come here and kids go to Turkey, Greece, SE Asia and more. Now, there are two youngins in Cantonese immersion pre-school and elementary school in guess where? Portland. Once these kids have finished fifth grade they’re guaranteed placement in China foreign exchange programs. Future diplomats and progressive entrepreneurs, I hope.

  12. Donald Pay 2018-12-29 09:39

    For some time my daughter has been saying China’s goal in the next 5-10 years will be to displace the US dollar (USD) as the world’s primary reserve currency. Earlier in 2018, there were stories of European countries dropping reserves in USD and increasing reserves in the Chinese renminbi. A recent story by Zhong Sheng (a generic name used by the Chinese government for someone highly placed in the government providing consensus viewpoints by the government) provides some positive recent results.

    Because the US under Trump is not a reliable trading partner, the renminbi seems to be increasingly displacing the USD in many countries. Whether China can fully displace the USD is questionable, but China is fully aware that having a dim-bulb like Trump in the White House makes their goal much more achievable.

  13. Porter Lansing 2018-12-29 10:19

    Nationalism will demote USA to a lower world leadership level. When Trump says that aid to Central America does nothing for us and calls underdeveloped countries “sh*thole”, China is more than willing to step in and spend development money. This aid has to usher in a renminbi surplus and change standard world currency.
    Currently USA gives development assistance worldwide at 0.17% of our GNI (formerly GNP) and China gives development assistance worldwide at .0348%. China has money to burn and USA is mired down with a leader pandering to the five psychological traits of his dwindling supporters.

  14. Jason 2018-12-29 14:56

    If you guys cared about China winning then you would want the US to start taking over Africa like China is.

    Why don’t you guys discuss socialism and Venezuela?

  15. jerry 2018-12-29 15:08

    guwahahaa, take over Africa? Your boy trump calls that place s#=+hole countries. China is doing just fine there as trump wants nothing to do with the place since the ambush in Niger/Mali.

    Russia has purchased Venezuela right out from under our noses. In fact, through Venezuela, Russia also purchased the refinery’s in the United States that are Citgo. How did that happen? Ask your trump and the trumpians.

  16. Jason 2018-12-29 15:09


    Ask Hillary how Russia got US Uranium.

  17. Jason 2018-12-29 15:10

    Cory and Jerry,

    Will you guys move to Venezuela to prove socialism works?

  18. jerry 2018-12-29 15:24

    We live in South Dakota, proof positive that socialism works.

  19. jerry 2018-12-29 15:27

    I just got off the phone with her and she called you a dummy, I couldn’t believe it. She also said “Russia. The World Nuclear Association states that Russia has known uranium deposits of 500,000 tonnes and planned to mine 11,000 to 12,000 tonnes per year from deposits in the South Urals, Western Siberia, and Siberia east of Lake Baikal, by 2010.”

    Which leads me to believe that what she called you was spot on.

  20. mike from iowa 2018-12-29 15:50

    Hopefully this is the last time this has to be regurgitated for mindless trolls- Claim: Clinton played a key role in helping Russia gain control of U.S. uranium supplies.

    The Russian state nuclear company, Rosatom, bought Canadian mining company Uranium One in 2010. Uranium One had, and still has, uranium mining rights in the United States.

    For that reason, President Barack Obama’s administration had to approve the deal. In a unanimous vote, nine U.S. government departments and agencies signed off. All are part of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and included Clinton’s State Department.

    By all accounts, she was not actively involved. One of her deputies handled the matter, which was not considered controversial because uranium is widely bought and sold around the world for a range of purposes, from nuclear power plant fuel to medical treatments and research.

    “It’s a commercial market; it’s a global market. Companies get bought and sold. Some of the companies that do the buying are controlled by foreign governments,” said Matthew Bunn, who heads the Project on Managing the Atom, a nuclear policy research group at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “That’s the world we live in. It’s a totally normal purchase.”

    Claim: Uranium One controls 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply.

    At the time of the 2010 sale, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimated that Uranium One held the rights to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium in the ground. But this figure is misleading.

    The Washington Post reports that it is also outdated. It was based on uranium production capacity in 2010, which has since greatly expanded. Uranium One’s share of mining rights is now far less than 20 percent of the U.S. total.

    What is more, the U.S. is a tiny player in the world uranium market. The U.S. produced 1,126 tons of uranium last year out of global production of more than 62,000 tons, according to the World Nuclear Association. So U.S. production is less than 2 percent of the global total.

    Uranium One produces a small and dwindling amount of that U.S. figure. Last year, it mined just 23 tons in the U.S. — about 2 percent of the small U.S. production.

    Think of Uranium One’s share as 2 percent of 2 percent. Or 0.04 percent of world production. (from NPR)

    Russia will never get export license so they may own some Uranium they will never get possession of.

  21. mike from iowa 2018-12-29 15:56

    Plus the former owner of Uranium One sold his share of the company and gave the Clinton foundation a large sum at least a year before she was named SOS so there was no chance of a quid pro quo. The whole story is based on a lie from beginning to end.

  22. Roger Cornelius 2018-12-29 16:13


    Venezuela and socialism, there we discussed both for you.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-29 16:27

    Free market didn’t plow Aberdeen’s streets… but a truckload of fossil fuels did. Like Canada, we might have to consider more efficient ways to keep communities going during the winter. (Letting global warming run rampant is not a solution, since our heat bill savings on the thawing tundra will be offset by the cost of jacking Miami, New York, and Boston up above the rising seas.)

  24. Robert McTaggart 2018-12-29 17:20

    Yeah, like why are we not melting ice and snow off of our roads and sidewalks and driveways with this abundant renewable energy? Perfect application for an intermittent power source…no energy storage required.

    In other news, Connecticut just selected power from two nuclear power plants to help reduce their greenhouse emissions. They also accepted bids from solar projects and off-shore wind development.

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