Saying “No” to the Green New Deal

Many of my friends and connections like the Green New Deal. Here’s why I’m saying “No thank you!”.

While it would be wonderful to see a broad coalition toward a new future, the Green New Deal can’t be that. It’s a wish list put forward by a coalition of the radical left without consultation with the rest of society.  Small “c” conservatives dislike it intensely. The GND is almost certain to lead quickly to increased polarization and animosity between the left and the right. In fact it’s doing that already.

There are currently two alternative views on the way forward and if we only take one and try and push it through we create more polarization. Personally I don’t think the way forward is either of the options that the left and right currently conceive of. It’s something else we could only imagine together.

A better and more doable immediate strategy is to build bridges between the left and right, to have a New Conversation. An initiative beloved by one side and bitterly opposed by the other won’t make us happy in the ways that count. Many people (Jordan Peterson and Ken Wilber among them) have pointed out that it was partly the failure of the left to address the concerns of the right that led to the rise of Trump and the new conservatism. I agree and the same can be said for the rise of nationalism in many parts of the world.

My point isn’t primarily to criticize the GND, though I am critical of it. It’s to say the way forward needs wide consultation and discussion. It’s not helped by forceful implementation of one pre-authorized view.

Many parts of the GND could easily lead to social unrest. As a single example, the call is for the Deal to be led and implemented by people who have been marginalized by the system, that is, by people who are mostly outside of it. Almost by definition these are people will not have the experience and skills to do the job. Good will toward marginalized people won’t remedy that fundamental flaw. (It’s also extremely difficult – I would say impossible – to identify exactly who is marginalized by the system.)

It’s true that there’s plenty of corruption in things are they are. But replacing the power structure with people who have no managerial or policy expertise doesn’t touch that. It’s the system that needs radical renewal. Could putting unskilled people at the forefront of the existing imbalanced and outdated system make things better? Could substituting identity politics for skill and merit help us all? Personally, I can’t imagine it.

But more important that, our common future isn’t a partisan issue. Our future, if we’re to have one is a deeper democracy. There are wonderful consultative practices for having local people voice their views, to hear each other and to build coalitions on matters of common interest. The World Cafe for example. Or, in the longer run and on a national level, what Extinction Rebellion is “demanding:” a Citizen’s Assembly chosen (like juries are) by lot to oversee the transition to a lower carbon future and to require government to tell the truth about our climate situation. Such an Assembly would be made up of ordinary people from across society with the resources and time they need to make decisions for the good of all, decisions that aren’t subject to being bought or lobbied. Crazyily huge as a plan like that is – it would be resisted by government until it wasn’t – it could have broad social appeal and move in the direction of health and sanity in our political process. The Green New Deal though goes in the other direction.

I don’t usually write about politics but this is what happened today. Comments are welcome.

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