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Fear and Loathing of the Green New Deal


Naomi Klein’s essay on why Texans have turned the Green New Deal into a monstrous specter of evil that will somehow destroy the libertarian paradise of their minds is well worth reading. Here’s the conclusion:

The difference between then and now goes a very long way toward explaining why Mr. Abbott is railing against a policy plan that, as of now, exists primarily on paper. In a crisis, ideas matter — he knows this. He also knows that the Green New Deal, which promises to create millions of union jobs building out shock-resilient green energy infrastructure, transit and affordable housing, is extremely appealing. This is especially true now, as so many Texans suffer under the overlapping crises of unemployment, houselessness, racial injustice, crumbling public services and extreme weather.

All that Texas’s Republicans have to offer, in contrast, is continued oil and gas dependence — driving more climate disruption — alongside more privatizations and cuts to public services to pay for their state’s mess, which we can expect them to push in the weeks and months ahead.

Will it work? Unlike when the Republican Party began deploying the shock doctrine, its free-market playbook is no longer novel. It has been tried and repeatedly tested: by the pandemic, by spiraling hunger and joblessness, by extreme weather. And it is failing all of those tests — so much so that even the most ardent cheerleaders of deregulation now point to Texas’s energy grid as a cautionary tale. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, for instance, called the deregulation of Texas’s energy system “a fundamental flaw.”

In short, Republican ideas are no longer lying around — they are lying in ruin. Small government is simply no match for this era of big, interlocking problems. Moreover, for the first time since Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s former prime minister, declared that “there is no alternative” to leaving our fates to the market, progressives are ready with a host of problem-solving plans. The big question is whether the Democrats who hold power in Washington will have the courage to implement them.

The horrors currently unfolding in Texas expose both the reality of the climate crisis and the extreme vulnerability of fossil fuel infrastructure in the face of that crisis. So of course the Green New Deal finds itself under fierce attack. Because for the first time in a long time, Republicans face the very thing that they claim to revere but never actually wanted: competition — in the battle of ideas.

This is right. The entire rhetoric of “free market competition” has always been bullshit coming from the energy sector and right-wingers generally. What they want is for the government to subsidize them and not others. That this rhetoric exists in a nation with massive government subsidies to oil and gas, to transportation networks that require automobiles, to suburban home building, etc., would make it all laughable if it didn’t create such enormous damage to the world to make the future of most life forms quite tenuous. The Texas elites are starting to lose this battle. Like conservatives around the nation are responding to becoming quite unpopular, their answer is doubling down on their rhetoric with increasingly extremist position they hope could be backed with state force.

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