What Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has thrust upon our national conversation is not, in any sense, a “Green New Deal.” It does not resemble a Green New Deal. It does not approximate a Green New Deal. It does not so much as represent the shadows or the framework or the embryo of a Green New Deal. It is, instead, the inchoate shopping list of a political novice who has managed to get herself elected to Congress and believes that this has turned her into a visionary.
As is her prerogative, Ocasio-Cortez can name her work as she sees fit. But her document is in no manner a “plan.” It is in no context a “program.” It is in no way an “approach.” It is not an outline, a manifesto, a statement, or a catechism. It is, rather, an all-compassing wish list — an untrammeled Dear Santa letter without form, purpose, borders, or basis in reality. It is not even “green,” except in that peculiar, mind-wrecking way that “intersectionality” seeks to make everything part of everything else, and thus leads to Planned Parenthood insisting that “Net Neutrality is reproductive justice” and to the Democratic Socialists of America proclaiming that we can’t possibly fix our algae problems until we institute union card check. Debates over the minutiae may fill the hours on cable news, but it does not, in fact, much matter whether the FAQ had been perfectly edited before release, or whether the PDF had been appropriately updated by its author, or whether the language in section 2, subsection 5 had been properly reviewed by the committee. It does not matter, either, whether Ocasio-Cortez eventually manages to get half the press corps or all of the press corps to cover for her disingenuousness. FAQ or not, the work deserves no serious evaluation beyond grim, derisive laughter. Clearly panicked by what Ocasio-Cortez was doing to her nascent majority’s agenda, Speaker Pelosi described the document disparagingly as a “green dream.” Tangerine Dream would have been closer to the mark. But Edgar Froese had talent.
At Waco, the authorities agreed to a cease-fire so that David Koresh could finish his “book” — the contents of which, a thorough “decoding of the Seven Seals” of Revelation, would be dictated to him by God. Next to Ocasio-Cortez’s work, what Koresh bashed out onto his floppy disk resembles the finest theology of Aquinas. Quite what has possessed a 28-year-old, unmarried, childless bartender to consider herself capable of redesigning the entire world within a decade remains steadfastly unclear. Indeed, it does not seem to have occurred to either Ocasio-Cortez or to the more experienced politicians who have willingly become her disciples that they are endorsing a revolutionary screed penned by a person who has never so much as dealt directly with a local school board. At this point in her life, Ocasio-Cortez has no experience of anything much at all. She has no history of business ownership; she boasts no military service; she exhibits no vocational skills; she has raised no children; she has not dealt seriously with a zoning committee or a regulatory agency or a union boss; she has not written, amended, or influenced a single alteration to the legal regime under which we live. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with this state of affairs. To each his own, and good luck to all. But Jeffrey Lebowski did not fancy himself as Lenin.
Emerging from the two-year coma that our president’s pernicious ubiquity has induced, the Democratic party is having a tough time of late. There is a considerable difference between how policy ideas sound behind closed doors and how policy ideas sound when spoken aloud in a vast, boisterous, recalcitrant republic — a difference that has clearly surprised those who were unaware that, Trump or no Trump, there is still no great appetite in America for post-birth abortion, for the abolition of private health insurance, or for breezy anti-Semitism masquerading as authenticity, and that there is likely to be even less enthusiasm for rebuilding every structure in America, or for phasing out airplanes, or for destroying our current sources of energy while ruling out the only reliable alternatives.
Having returned from the wilderness, the savvier among the Left’s insurgent politicians grasped quickly that they were digging themselves into a hole and moderated their language accordingly. But Ocasio-Cortez, who suffers from the same auto-immune deficiency as Roy Moore, Steve King, and Ilhan Omar, has made no such adjustment. Egged on by a sizable coterie of fanatical cheerleaders, and inspired by her unassailable self-confidence, Ocasio-Cortez has come to see herself as a general fighting a war, and to regard those who criticize her even mildly as saboteurs, malignant interests, or unimaginative has-beens of the Age she was sent to vanquish. The exit from the dream will be a sour one.
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