The Green New Deal is probably going to be the subject of much debate in the coming months, though why California Senator Dianne Feinstein chose to challenge its flaws to a group of pleading schoolchildren is anyone’s guess.
On February 22, a group of wide-eyed kids clutching a handwritten letter met with Feinstein in order to beg her vote for the Green New Deal. Instead of smiling and saying “We’ll see” like most adults know to do when the answer is actually no, Feinstein chose to drop some hard truths on them there children.
“Some scientists have said we have 12 years to turn this around,” says the child clutching the letter.
“Well it’s not going to get turned around in 10 years,” Feinstein replies.
Another girl reminds Feinstein that her job as an elected official is to listen to voters. Feinstein asks how old she is, to which the girl responds that she’s 16.
“Well, you didn’t vote for me,” the senator tells her.
The students were meeting with Feinstein in conjunction with the Sunrise Movement, which has also held protests and rallies in effort to garner Democratic support for the Green New Deal. The Sunrise Movement posted an edited version of the meeting to Twitter, which quickly went viral. An unedited version of the video, which is less tense, exists on their Facebook page.
The Green New Deal, introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, is an ambitious, non-binding 10-year plan focused on eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, protecting those disproportionately effected by climate change, and also guaranteeing healthcare and livable wages for all. It’s drawn criticism from both the left and the right for being too pie-in-the-sky, too expensive, and too divisive, all points Feinstein argues with the wide-eyed kinder whose main concern seems to be avoiding a future in which they’re forced to fight to the death for potable water:
“That resolution will not pass the Senate. And you can take that back to whoever sent you here,” Senator Feinstein told them. “I’ve been in the Senate for a quarter of a century, and I know what can pass, and I know what can’t pass.”
Probably true, and besides, those kids are going to need to toughen up if they want to survive the Thunderdome.
However, five of Feinstein’s colleagues—Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren, all candidates for the presidency—have expressed support for the Green New Deal.
As for Feinstein, she claims to have a better piece of legislation, which she offered to provide the children for review. But the six-term senator was clear, she won’t be threatened by an adorable little girl reminding her that “the government is supposed to be for the people and by the people.”
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” she informed the child, “I know what I’m doing. You come in here, and you say it has to be my way or the highway. I don’t respond to that.”
She does, however, respond to outrage over viral videos depicting her engaged in “spirited discussion” with minors. On Friday night, the senator tweeted a statement that read, in part, “Unfortunately, it was a brief meeting, but I want to the children to know they were heard loud and clear. I have been and remain committed to doing everything I can to enact real, meaningful climate change legislation.”