We’ve got to have a serious dialogue about the Green New Deal. Not the content, per se; the GND is probably the best chance humanity has for long-term survival. But we’re having trouble selling it.
When disaffected voters approach us, we don’t seem to know how to deliver our message as relates to their issues. Instead, we’re professorial, esoteric and inaccessible.
Look at the terms in which we couch our proposals. When Joe Six-pack hears us lead off with “eco-socialism” — a six-syllable word with no immediately available reference to his own experience — Joe has already hit the skip button by the third syllable.
This is not a new problem. When Jill or David or Ralph speaks publicly, let’s shed our biases and listen as if for the first time. Are they so plain, so clear and so compelling that Joe isn’t off for another beer five seconds in?
Likewise, our current field of Presidential candidates has a good grasp of the provisions of the GND, good enough to get any of them through to the 2020 nomination. But after that, the snail is out of his/her shell.
Once outside our little enclave of largely white retirees, who already know and agree with the nominee, what now? African Americans and Latinos are waiting to hear about justice. Working class whites want to hear about jobs and healthcare. LGBTQ persons want to know what we’re doing to guarantee their rights.
And we’re leading off with eco-socialism. Good job. We’ve established, rightly or wrongly, that we’re aging hippies with no clue what “real people” are going through.
Try this instead: think of a given constituency that’s been abandoned by American politics. Think of their issues. Anticipate their questions. Now, think how the Green New Deal addresses those issues. And give me a tight, one- or two-sentence description of exactly how GND benefits them.
We are oozing privilege when we simply expect people to identify with our interpretation of the issues and answers, rather than taking the discussion to them.