In 2007, when Barack Obama was the great progressive hope and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was preparing to graduate from high school, the leading voice of American centrism, and of catchy new slogans, coined a Catchy New Slogan: the Green New Deal.
Thomas Friedman, whom online progressives loathed even then, wrote:
The right rallying call is for a “Green New Deal.” The New Deal was not built on a magic bullet, but on a broad range of programs and industrial projects to revitalize America. Ditto for an energy New Deal. If we are to turn the tide on climate change and end our oil addiction, we need more of everything: solar, wind, hydro, ethanol, biodiesel, clean coal and nuclear power — and conservation.
And in an interview this Friday, the New York Times columnist said he’s pleased with the progress of his progeny.
“I’ll take AOC’s Green New Deal over Trump’s pollution new deal any day,” Friedman told BuzzFeed News. “What AOC’s done is say: ‘Here’s my plan to fix this. What’s yours?’”
Friedman said he’s “thrilled” that the idea of a Green New Deal is gaining traction in Congress and that presidential campaigns are endorsing the idea of addressing climate change head on because of progressive groups like the Sunrise Movement and representatives like Ocasio-Cortez who’ve been pushing the issue in Congress since January.
But he said he thinks that if the country is going to do anything about climate change that the solution needs to be market-based and move further to the political center to bring centrist Democrats and moderate Republicans to the table.
“AOC’s and [Sen. Ed] Markey’s plan addresses issues like income gaps and safety with a jobs guarantee and universal health care,” Friedman explained. “The only thing is, what I’ve learned from writing about and covering energy for years, is that energy is a scale problem and if you don’t scale, whatever you’re doing is just a hobby.”
“I wouldn’t try to change the climate as a hobby,” Friedman added. “The only thing that gives you scale is market.”
The Senate voted on a version of the Green New Deal this week in a Republican political effort to tie Democrats to a policy that they consider extreme. Democrats largely sat out the vote, voting “present” instead of approving or disapproving of the proposal. The measure failed 57–0.
“They’re going to regret that vote,” Friedman said of the Senate Republicans. “They tried to engineer a farce.”
“They approached it like, ‘Haha, this is a joke.’ I hope we go into this election where there’s three versions of the Green New Deal on the Democratic side and no plan at all on the Republican side. Let’s see how that plays out.”
Friedman, who describes himself as a “green capitalist,” said he thought the best way to push a Green New Deal forward would be by reshaping the market through carbon taxes, incentives, and raising emissions standards he outlined in his 2019 piece.
“They have their thoughts on how we can get this done and I have a different one from them,” Friedman said. “But I’m glad that it’s at the center of the debate and that Mother Nature is on the agenda.”
The name of the Sunrise Movement was misstated in an earlier version of this post.