When Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first released her plan to combat climate change and build the economy, I was sitting at the edge of my bed, exhausted.
I had been waiting for this moment since the freshman Congresswoman publically joined environmental activists outside of then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office. After trying to read the text of her proposal on my phone, I dragged my laptop out of my backpack, set it on my knees, and began to read. After digesting as much of the text (and immediate political commentary) as I could, I slumped back onto the bed, more tired than I was when I had sat down. I agreed with the mission, but I thought the actual proposal was too vague, too hopeful, and too radical to actually work.
It’s 2019, and like so many of the people around me, I am used to being on the defensive. Especially in the age of President Trump, with Executive Orders targeting people of color, protections for pre-existing conditions under threat, and a tax bill that shepherds 83 percent of the benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent, there are many attacks that need responses.
It feels as though the values I was taught were American are the ones that this Administration is bent on stripping down to their cores. It feels like we are playing a cruel game of whack-a-mole: we are facing daily attacks and every time we seem to make progress on one, a new rodent raises its head above the ground, leering, and luring us back into the trenches.
I am tired, my neighbors are tired, my peers are tired.
So when Representative Ocasio-Cortez announced the Green New Deal, my immediate thought was that she was shooting too high and thinking beyond what was possible. I followed political pundits examples by poking holes in every piece of the legislation that I could find. How will we fund it? What happens to jobs that will be replaced? How can we ensure its stability in such a polarized Washington?
After being on the defensive for so long, so many progressive’s opinions are hardwired to push back—to the point that we are cannibalizing our values. I was pushing down on AOC’s commentary like it was another one of those attacks: it was something new and unknown, so it was something to fear.
It’s an easy reaction, but it’s no way to build a progressive future. Instead of spending our energy poking more holes in the Congresswoman’s plan, we should be actively finding the ways that we can fill them.
I would be remiss not to say that I also feared Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s vision because I was afraid that she would fail. I see a lot of myself and my friends in the freshman Congresswoman.
I am young, not completely white, a woman, hopeful, and emotional about the issues that I care deeply about. I want Representative Ocasio-Cortez to win because I want to win. I want to know that our country can heal after the Trump era, move forward with a duel Congressional majority, and create a stronger, more inclusive country.
I want the image of a young, not completely white, woman to be an image of power and success.
What I am learning now is we cannot take that path forward by always playing it safe and remapping roads we have already taken. There is no blueprint for combatting overwhelming issues like climate change—we are going to have to accept that sometimes we might will fail or come up short. But that should not hold us back from taking risks. The problems we face, like climate change, are scary, systematic, and the stakes are high. The clock is ticking and we will only get to solutions necessary to meet our current challenges by putting forth new, bold ideas. The Green New Deal is one of those ideas.
Despite my moments of hesitation, I am proud to support Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. In her own, now viral words, “the power is in the person who’s trying.”