Some 1,000 people packed the Strand Theater in Dorchester last night for the Sunrise Movement’s rolling road show of the Green New Deal. Standing room only! Participants included Senator Ed Markey (naturally); new Rep. Ayanna Pressley; and Councilor Michelle Wu, who has made climate action her policy calling card.
This was a big deal: Events like this can galvanize local action when enthusiastic and active people see each other. WBUR covered it (briefly); MassLive (Springfield Republican) was there, and gives probably the best rundown available in the media; the Globe gives it absolutely no mention that I can find.
Speakers included Sen. Ed Markey, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who called climate change an “existential threat” and challenged those who describe the Green New Deal as radical, reckless and dangerous.
“There’s nothing radical about moral clarity and we are clear that the only dangerous and reckless thing is not to act at all,” Pressley said.
Climate change itself is far more radical than the actions contemplated in the GND. It is an act of preservation.
There are several takeaways:
- Holding this event at The Strand is important in itself. The youth climate movement, embodied by the Sunrise Movement, is young, energized, and explicitly intersectional. And indeed, people of color, the poor, those without various forms of privilege, will suffer the worst effects of climate change, just as they have suffered the worst effects of all pollution historically. Choosing a venue in a multi-cultural, multi-class neighborhood was in keeping with this identity.
- Count me among those who hope Michelle Wu will run against Marty Walsh in 2021. She exudes urgency, vision and optimism. She’s building constituencies in all the right places. She bikes. She buses. She T’s. She has young kids who can’t get into the schools they want. Walsh has been too often aloof and careless, and you wonder if he has his priorities straight. He deserves a vigorous, credible challenge, and Wu can provide just that.
- I’m delighted to see Pressley swinging hard on this issue. She is showing how her primary victory was no accident.
- Ed Markey is up for re-election next year, and he is the right guy in the right place, hitting all the right notes. There has been talk of a primary challenge to him a la Capuano, but he’s really different. His climate leadership is vital — and with him, his new hipness comes from an absolutely genuine place, a political space he’s naturally inhabited for 40+ years.
- I’ll keep saying it until I’m blue in the face … OK, I am actually blue in the face: Your Massachusetts Governor, Mr. Popular, who said he would “take a back seat to no one” on climate action, will not publicly support H.3092 (Garballey/Decker)/S.1625 (Eldridge), to move to 100% renewable energy by 2045 (for instance). Nor will Speaker DeLeo, even though he could make it happen if he wanted, and even though he lives on a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean.
Part of this road show is to create local buzz, local action. There is a stark gap between the wokeness of our congressional delegation (Markey, Pressley) and the sloth and special-interest capture of our state-level establishment. State leadership matters, and we’re not even in that conversation anymore. From a recent story by Vox’s David Roberts:
The trend of states targeting 100 percent clean electricity has gone viral.
Last month, New Mexico targeted 100 percent clean by 2045. The Maryland legislature recently passed a bill targeting 50 percent renewable by 2030 and looking into the viability of 100 percent by 2040. Illinois might pass a 100 percent target soon. Of course California and Hawaii already have, to say nothing of more than 100 US cities (most recently Chicago).
Notice anything missing? Us. (OK, Cambridge is included in those 100 cities — please clap.)
Listen to the kids. Do your job. No more excuses. (Not even in “liberal” Massachusetts.)