Sunrise + Bernie + Biden = Equation For Green New Deal Passage

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Sunrise — that youth movement of primarily middle and high school and college age kids who are promoting the Green New Deal — has been in a funk for the last 2 months. The organization’s favorite candidate for US President, Senator Bernie Sanders, dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination. Slapped by a vicious dose of political reality, the Sunrisers stomped and pouted and sent e-blasts questioning the presumptive nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden. Then something very interesting happened this week. Varshini Prakash, the phenom Sunrise co-founder, was nominated by Sanders to serve on the Sanders-Biden Task Force on the Climate Crisis. A Sunrise + Bernie + Biden collaboration may be just what’s needed to coalesce youth and boomers, Democratic progressives and moderates, white middle class and underrepresented groups.

The Green New Deal has been resurrected this week by this very wise coalition-building effort.

Sunrise + Bernie + Biden
Image retrieved from YouTube

Prakash was named to the Grist Top 50 Fixers for “people cooking up the boldest, most ambitious solutions to humanity’s biggest challenges.” She’ll serve on the Task Force with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and environmental justice advocate Catherine Flowers. There are 5 other task forces in the works on key issues — economy, immigration, healthcare, education, and criminal justice. The idea is to have disparate activist groups help craft the 2020 agenda for the Biden campaign, inform the DNC policy platform, and have a role in Biden’s transition process to defeat Donald Trump in November.

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Sunrise + Bernie + Biden as a Path to Justice of all Kinds

Sunrise describes itself as:

“… a movement of young people uniting to stop the climate crisis. We are building an army of young people to break the hold of oil and gas CEOs on our politics and elect leaders who will protect the health and wellbeing of all people, not just a wealthy few.”

To be working to write the Democratic Platform on climate is a major feat for the Sunrise movement. The effort to defeat Trump in November can disrupt business as usual and pressure the next President and Congress to begin legislating on the decade of the Green New Deal.

Sure, the choice of Biden to lead the Democratic party was distasteful to the Sunrisers. In an announcement to the Sunrise community, Prakash allowed that,

“… while Vice President Biden has certainly done much good over his career, like many powerful politicians he has also done much harm. He has been on the wrong side of history for some of the most defining fights of our generation: mass incarceration, NAFTA, the Iraq War, record deportations, and taking on Wall Street and the credit card companies.”

But, with 10 years to “completely transform US society and economy to stop climate change,” the Sunrisers knew that another 4 years of Donald Trump would only portend more environmental deregulation. Prakash recognizes that a necessary call for the scale of change must center on more important criteria than having one’s favorite candidate stand for office. She says it requires:

  • justice for frontline communities
  • a just transition for workers
  • good jobs
  • healthcare for all
  • migrant protections
  • and more.

Prakash argues that Donald Trump “cannot be defeated without historic youth enthusiasm, and that enthusiasm can’t be generated without a bold platform and authentic commitment to addressing the crises our generation faces.” She is working from a position that the Biden campaign is embracing the Sunrisers in good faith to earn the youth generation’s votes. She implores the Sunrise community to raise their voices for a Green New Deal at all levels.

Like many other activists in the environmental world right now, Prakash sees a relationship between the current economic crisis and the opening for a historic green recovery.

And she’s metaphorically bringing along with her to the Task Force groups from all over the world whose existences are contingent on seeing a Green New Deal enacted. Her family in India who are at jeopardy due to monsoons, droughts, and air pollution. Farmers in Iowa struggling to protect their crops from floods and Big Ag. Communities in Paradise, CA whose homes burned in the wildfires. People in Detroit’s 48217 zip code — the most polluted in that state and who are fighting for environmental justice.

And every young person who has been given hope by the movement for a Green New Deal.

Let’s cross our fingers that Biden is listening.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack:

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