There are other issues besides climate that matter to me. Issues such as trans rights, immigration rights, voting rights, gun control, and workers rights where Kennedy has been more vocal and out front than Ed Markey has been which is why he is gaining support from those parts of the party. There is a real risk for Markey-who is already down by double digits-to run as a single issue climate activist.
Need I remind you the state as a whole is not particularly ready to put its money where it’s mouth is on climate . It also re-elected Baker twice. As you point out communities on the business end of climate change like Weymouth and Winthrop routinely elect and re-elect short sighted leaders on climate.
Kennedy co-sponsored the Green New Deal and scores a point better in the League of Conservation Voters rating. He gets a 95% and Markey gets a 94%. There will be a lot of voters outside the progressive activist bubble where this outrage comes across as hyperbolic and misplaced, especially when the real outrage is the White House.
This movement unfortunately leans lily white. It’s laudable the kids from Brookline, Arlington, and Cambridge got parental permission to cut school and protest, but my kids had to go to school and many have to work 8 hours in minimum wage jobs to support their families as soon as they get out. For a lot of people in this state, myself included, making the next rent check is a far more existential and immediate reality than climate change.
The alarmism is justified and we are running out of time. In the long scheme of things it is working class communities and communities of color, not to mention developing nations like the Philippines, that will bare the brunt of this challenge.
What is needed is a way to connect those threads together and communicate them to multiple stakeholders. Kennedy did that during his state of the union response, his speech endorsing Warren, and on many different platforms where he’s shared his vision. Markey is like Bernie. He got there first and he’s been a consistent and cranky messenger, but it will take someone with broader communication skills and coalition building skills to get things done. Kennedy has that ability.
The Green New Deal as a concept is the best way to articulate that vision, and I am interested to hear how one of its co-sponsors stacks against one of its authors. It’s absolutely essential that we debate this topic-but it’s also important for Markey and his supporters not to get tunnel vision on this if they want to win an actual victory on climate legislation. Something Markey hasn’t been able to do since the 90’s.
My kids have relatives in Trump’s cages, people they love getting deported, we just lost a senior from last year who got shot over the weekend, so many have had housing insecurity and evictions, others face harassment on the job or just the indignity of flexible schedules. Many have chronic health care issues that only single payer can truly cover. I want their issues highlighted too.
Obviously the community I live and teach in is underwater if we do nothing, but I don’t think lecturing people suffering from other issues that this one is the one that matters most is the way to win or be effective on climate or on the seamless garment of social and economic justice we all seek. Kennedy in the tradition of his grandfather can appeal to today’s Wallace (Trump) and McCarthy (Bernie) voters alike. A Warren protege helping pass her agenda as President would be a nice feather in the cap. Markey has served honorably, but his best days are behind him. It’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of leadership.