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Republicans Should Be Embarrassed by Their Response to the Green New Deal & AOC Isn’t Afraid to Tell Them So


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez waits to strike during Michael Cohen's hearing.

The Senate held a vote yesterday on the progressive Green New Deal resolution, and it overwhelmingly didn’t pass, though that wasn’t the failure it may appear to be. In fact, it was a deliberate strategy on the part of Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rushed the resolution into a procedural vote in order to get Democrats on the record as supporting or detracting from the ambitious and still vague resolution. Rather than give Republicans ammunition in displaying possible party divides or giving the illusion of a lack of support in regard to action on climate change, nearly every Democrat voted “present” rather than yea or nay—a tactic the bill’s co-sponsor Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she encouraged.

This was a bad faith move on the part of the Republicans and the Democrats didn’t take the bait.

That didn’t stop Republicans from embarrassing themselves to an extreme degree. Utah Senator Mike Lee took the floor at one point to say that “The solution to climate change won’t be found in political posturing or virtue signaling. It won’t be found in the federal government at all. You know where the solution can be found? … In churches, in wedding chapels, in maternity wards across the country and around the world.”

That’s right, according to Lee, “The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution … the solution to so many of our problems at all times and in all places is to fall in love, get married, and have some kids.”

That picture next to him wasn’t a Twitter photoshop job. He used pictures of Luke Skywalker riding a tauntaun and Aquaman on a giant seahorse as a way to address the resolution with “the seriousness it deserves,” in his opinion.

It was truly bizarre.

At least AOC had the perfect reaction to Lee’s stunt.

But while Lee’s inanity is mockable, it’s just one example of how grossly dismissive the Republican response to this resolution has been. One congressman, Wisconsin’s Sean Duffy, called the plan “elitist,” created by “rich liberals from New York or California.”

Ocasio-Cortez has had a lot of videos go viral, mostly because she’s developing a pattern of exhibiting the kind of sharp, passionate action and language we want to see from our elected representatives. But her response to Duffy and to his fellow Republicans might just be one of the most powerful videos we’ve seen not just from her, but from the floor of Congress in general.

Do yourself a favor and take two minutes to watch the whole thing.

“This is not an elitist issue, this is a quality of life issue,” she said, not trying to hide her anger. “You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the south Bronx which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint … call them elitist,” she said. “People are dying.”

“This is about our lives,” she continued. “This is about American lives. And it should not be partisan. Science should not be partisan. We are facing a national crisis. And if we do not ascend to that crisis—if we do not ascend to the levels in which we were threatened at the Great Depression, when we were threatened in WWII—if we do not ascend to those levels, if we tell the American public that we are more willing to invest and bail out big banks than we are willing to invest in our farmers and our urban families, then I don’t know what we’re here doing.”

Ocasio-Cortez was unapologetic in expressing her anger. Some, of course, chose to see her speech as over the top. The rest of us see a leader whose demeanor matches the severity of the situation she’s talking about.

(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.