The far-left Sunrise Movement used a group of children aged 7 to 16 to lobby Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to support the Green New Deal. Did they hope to bully Feinstein into supporting socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s delusional wish list, or did they engage in political theater to create a selectively edited video simply designed to make Feinstein look mean?
Here is the short video that went viral Friday on Twitter:
The clip leaves the impression that Feinstein arrogantly dismissed a group of idealistic children who fear they face an apocalyptic, dystopian future unless radical action is taken immediately. The viral video, however, is selectively edited from a 15-minute version that tells a different story. As old-school progressive blogger John Avarosis acknowledges:
The incident is nothing more than the cynical use of children as human shields for the adult fanatics (and fellow travelers like Pod Save America’s Tommy Vietor). Youth politics are perhaps the dumbest form of identity politics. In general, adults know they know more now than they did when they were children. Adults also know that in the absence of the knowledge and wisdom that comes with age, children invest more in their emotions, and less in rationality.
But far-left activists pushing ideas they cannot defend in an adult debate also know it’s “bad optics” to be seen dismissing the young. The Sunrise Movement apparently believed the “bad optics” were the most they could salvage from their visit. Unfortunately for the Sunrise Movement, Feinstein acquits herself fairly well, even in the unfair version of the video.
Feinstein told the children she heard them and promoted her own resolution on climate change, but explained she could not support Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal. Ironically, the senator found herself playing fiscally responsible, telling one boy there was no way to pay for Ocasio-Cortez’s vision of a planned green economy. A girl interjected: “We have tons of money going to the military.”
In reality, America has spent $18 trillion on national defense since 1789. Manhattan Institute senior fellow Brian Riedl, who has been costing legislative proposals for 18 years, has called the price tag for the Green New Deal “incalculable,” but guesstimated it approaches $100 trillion.
As background, CBO projects a total GDP of $263 trillion over the next decade — of which about $75 trillion is already earmarked for federal, state ,and local government spending.
So that leaves $188 trillion of private GDP available for everything else.
— Brian Riedl (@Brian_Riedl) February 8, 2019
The New York Times reportage is similarly dire.
Green New Deal is technologically possible, experts say. But it will cost trillions of dollars, require expansive new taxes and federal programs, and could not be accomplished within the 10-year timeframe that supporters say is necessary. https://t.co/afWa9gOK45
— NYT Climate (@nytclimate) February 21, 2019
Feinstein similarly dismissed the Green New Deal’s timeline in response to one girl’s claim that United Nations scientists predict the world has about a decade to tackle climate change. The girl is presumably too young to remember former Vice President Al Gore warning we “may have only 10 years left to save the planet from turning into a total frying pan” 13 years ago. She presumably missed the news that other prominent greens believe we only have until 2020 before it becomes near-impossible to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Green panic is the real renewable resource.
Instead, Feinstein provided a basic civics lesson to the assembled children. She noted she was just re-elected with a million-vote plurality and instructed the youngsters it is as important for citizens to listen as it is to petition the government for a redress of grievances by issuing demands. There may be no more basic lesson in politics than as the art of compromise. America is a sprawling nation, filled with diverse interests. Our government is designed to address, however imperfectly, the demands of myriad factions.
Even a state as solidly Democratic as California is not a socialist monolith, which is precisely why Feinstein was re-elected over her even more leftist rival, Los Angeles state Sen. Kevin de León. Furthermore, Feinstein correctly observed the Green New Deal had zero change of passing the Republican-controlled Senate. (The proposal is sufficiently toxic that Ocasio-Cortez’s co-sponsor, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) had a meltdown when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced he would hold a vote on the resolution.)
In response, a boy complained, “Why can’t you try?” Of course, it would sound mean to criticize children for engaging in Green Lanternism—the notion that any political goal can be achieved by sheer willpower. The real problem is the childlike utopianism and childish tactics of the supposed adults indoctrinating these kids with debunked talking points and schlepping them around Capitol Hill. (However much the Niskanen Center’s Will Wilkinson might protest, no one watching either video can reasonably conclude the assembled tweens have a serious grasp on the Green New Deal, let alone environmental policy or politics in general.)
It is far less troubling that a young girl sounds like Ocasio-Cortez on the debunked talking point regarding defense spending than Ocasio-Cortez sounding like a child on the subject in the first instance. And her latest reaction in the wake of this incident is more of the same:
Yup. If you don’t like the #GreenNewDeal, then come up with your own ambitious, on-scale proposal to address the global climate crisis.
Until then, we’re in charge – and you’re just shouting from the cheap seats. https://t.co/h3KSJhHqDN
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 23, 2019
In reality, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in charge and has effectively neutered Ocasio-Cortez. Pelosi also quite publicly dumped on the Green New Deal. It appears Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to join the Sunrise Movement’s sit-in of Pelosi’s office did not have its intended effect.
Feinstein and Pelosi’s refusal to play along with the politics of adult children is refreshing, but not exactly award-worthy. As a senior Democrats in America’s most populous state, their benign neglect of the rot within their party helped bring those children to their office doors. The right will enjoy their due portion of schadenfreude, but everyone gets stuck living in the political environment polluted by the New New Left.