The Controversy and Popularity of the Green New Deal and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praising climate change activists protesting outside of Nancy Pelosi’s office. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger / The New York Times)

Claire Taylor, Business Manager

The progressive Green New Deal has sparked national controversy over future sustainable initiatives in America. Put forth by House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), the legislation suggests environmentally friendly economic and social reforms and has received criticism from every side of the political spectrum because of it.

Introduced as a draft to an immediate response to climate change on February 7th, 2019, the Green New Deal has gained attention for its goal of zero-carbon emissions in the United states within ten years of the resolution passing in Congress. This would require the elimination of nuclear energy and fossil fuel consumption, which for many experts and everyday citizens alike seems unrealistic, according to USA Today.

Hingham High School senior Meghan Rice spoke on the issue, saying, “I do not believe 100% clean energy use can be accomplished in ten years. I think there will be backlash from conservative government officials who could potentially block some of the legislation, and too much of the United States economy relies on non-renewable resources to make this change that quickly.”

On the subject of Massachusetts’ United States Senator Ed Markey being a major political figure accompanying Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez in the Green New Deal proposal, Michael Manning said that Markey’s involvement did not surprise him. “Massachusetts has always been at the forefront of bold social changes. I think this shows that being a largely coastal state it is highly concerned about the impact climate change could have on it,” Manning explained.

As an issue related to climate change, currently 89 of the 435 representatives in the Democratic House of Representatives support the Green New Deal as co-sponsors. Within the Republican-majority Senate, 11 out of 100 senators have agreed to co-sponsor the resolution. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has doubted the deal by calling it “a far-left’s Santa Claus wish list.” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) claimed that Democrats have issue with the extent, or lack of extent, the deal proposes through its writing, according to The Hill.

The effect that the Green New Deal could have on the United States economy is another concern for critics. The total cost of carrying out the sustainable changes described in the deal have huge estimations, such as $93 trillion, according to ABC News. Senior Shaun Collins explained, “Current ‘band aid’ solutions to combat climate change aren’t worth it in the long run.” Meghan Rice added, “Instead of profiting from non-renewable resources, the US will be saving money in the long run by implementing more sustainable means of production.” Contrarily, Michael Manning said, “I think that the zero carbon emissions part of the bill could kill thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

Hingham students, and surely American politicians, would like to see certain policies added or subtracted from the current draft of the Green New Deal. Meghan Rice said, I would like to see more concrete plans rather than general wishes in the deal. For example, specific costs and specific technology that would be put in place, and how minorities most economically affected by climate change will be helped.”

The leader of the Green New Deal initiative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has been gathering media attention even before her elected term in the House officially began. As the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, she has used social media to show her constituents the world inside her life as a Congresswoman. On Instagram stories she has literally walked viewers through governmental buildings and figuratively walked through the processes and preparations of becoming a Congresswoman. Netflix Inc. paid $10 million to buy “Knock Down the House” which tells the story of Cortez’s election campaign, according to In February, she was featured as the first host on the Desus and Mero talk show.

Meghan Rice said that Cortez “almost comes off as a freedom fighter, as someone finally speaking up for those silenced by government officials who have no care for minority or environmental struggles.” Shaun Collins also commented, “I love seeing her fierce and strong media presence because she stands her ground and asserts her presence as an influential member of Congress, which I think is boosting her popularity.”

Since the Green New Deal was introduced to Congress last month, each day more commentary is published about how the resolution could affect America. Whether or not one agrees with the resolution’s aspirations, the document has undoubtedly sparked long-delayed conversation about the severity of climate change.