All You Need Is a Congress and a Dream

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Has no Rx for his orange obsession.
A/V Subscriber
Nov 8, 2004
Wishing I was in Stillwater
From WSJ oped page:

All You Need Is a Congress and a Dream
Green New Dealer Edward Markey vows: ‘We will save all of creation by engaging in massive job creation.’

By Barton Swaim
Feb. 10, 2019 3:04 p.m. ET

It’s hard to know what to make of the “Green New Deal” put forward last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Edward Markey (D., Mass.). The pair’s nonbinding resolution calls for, among many other things, a 10-year plan to meet “100 percent of the power demand of the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” and to upgrade “all existing buildings in the United States . . . to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability.” It also aims to “promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities and youth.”

Good thing it’s nonbinding.

Maybe the resolution is a starting point in a negotiation, but its sponsors don’t seem in a mood to bargain. Their aims are total. They seem to believe that the Trump presidency’s illegitimacy and all-around awfulness (as they see it) have radicalized the public and made possible the fulfillment of progressive longings.

The Green New Deal is an expression of dreams, but that doesn’t make it pointless or merely comical. Take it seriously, not literally. Much of it reads like a leftist manifesto from half a century ago—I thought of the Port Huron Statement, issued by the founders of Students for a Democratic Society in 1962, which crammed scores of hopelessly vague and muddled objectives into a single document for the purpose of movement cohesion: “The economy itself is of such social importance that its major resources and means of production should be open to democratic participation and subject to democratic social regulation,” and so on.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi can still distinguish dream from reality. In 2009 she spent enormous political capital to push through a cap-and-trade bill—a kind of proto-Green New Deal that would have given federal authorities broad powers to regulate atmospheric pollutants—only to be swept from power in 2010. “It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Mrs. Pelosi said in an interview on Wednesday about the Green New Deal. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”

The imperturbable Ms. Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t offended by the word “dream.” “I don’t consider that to be a dismissive term,” she said. “I think it’s a great term.” It’s certainly an apt one, and makes sense of the resolution’s weirdly vatic language. Mr. Markey, sounding a little like the prophet Isaiah, said: “We will save all of creation by engaging in massive job creation.”

The word “dream” almost always has a happy connotation in American politics. To dream is to desire worthy and noble ends. Sometimes the ends really are worthy and noble, as in the most famous dream in American politics, Martin Luther King’s. But mostly they are not. Communism was always a dream, always a future state toward which its adherents had to struggle. Recall the haunting line of the political philosopher Michael Oakeshott: “The conjunction of dreaming and ruling generates tyranny.”

The political dream, Oakeshott wrote, “is a vision of a condition of human circumstance from which the occasion of conflict has been removed, a vision of human activity coordinated and set going in a single direction and of every resource being used to the full.” That is just about a perfect description of the progressive outlook. What else could inspire two members of Congress, one a neophyte and one with more than 40 years’ experience, to write a bill mandating—all at once, as if they could bring about paradise through legislation—clean water and air, affordable housing, access to healthy food, and “millions of high-wage jobs”?

American progressives are fond of the word “democracy,” but it is not democracy they want, because democracy is messy. What they want—and it is Mr. Trump’s strange genius to make them say it—is the noumenal perfection of a dream.

Mr. Swaim writes a political-books column for the Journal.


Federal Marshal
Feb 7, 2007
Tulsa, OK
I had forgotten about the House passing cap and trade. Even though we couldn't dodge the ACA druing Obama's first two years, thank God, we at least were were able to dodge cap and trade. A good reminder that even though the green new deal is an extremely radical version of it, it's not a new concept that the Dems want complete government control of the energy sector in this country.....we would all regret that.