The concepts behind a Green New Deal are currently widely popular with members of both political parties. But there’s a catch. Most don’t know much about it…
The Green New Deal (GND), in its most basic sense, is a robust series of programs involving investment in clean energy jobs and infrastructure resulting in transformation of the energy sector, and the economy overall. In addition to these massive investments into clean energy programs, citizens are given a federal-job guarantee, and there is a transformative effect on the U.S. economy.
The concept of a GND in the US was first mentioned in a column written by Thomas Friedman in 2007 and expanded upon in his subsequent book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded. It was also included as part of Barack Obama’s campaign platform in 2008. After remaining dormant for several years, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined a number of young climate activists to thrust the idea back into the spotlight following the 2018 midterm elections.
Over Forty congressional representatives backed the idea of a select committee to draft Green New Deal legislation in December of 2018, and many potential 2020 presidential candidates are already signing on to the general idea of a Green New Deal.
GREEN NEW DEAL POPULAR WITH BOTH DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication conducted a survey of registered voters who were given a brief summary of what the Green New Deal was all about, and these registered voters were then asked how much they supported, or opposed the idea. From the data garnered, a total of 81% of registered voters were in support of the idea. Also, surprisingly, this figure cut through both Democrats and Republicans, with 92% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans supporting the idea.
It was also noted that many of the Republicans in support of the Green New Deal, were unaware that it was being promoted by Democrats. This led the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication to say, “..these findings may indicate that although most Republicans and conservatives are in favor of the Green New Deal’s policies in principle, they are not yet aware that this plan is proposed by the political Left. For any survey respondents who were previously unaware of the Deal, it is likely that their reactions have not yet been influenced by partisan loyalty.“
CATCH: MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT AWARE OF THE GREEN NEW DEAL
While people are generally supportive of the policies of a Green New Deal, one large caveat is most people are unaware on the concept in general. Participants were asked during the survey how much of the Green New Deal they were familiar with, if at all. Results showed that a very large number of respondents, about 82%, had heard absolutely nothing about the Green New Deal. Only about 3% had heard a significant amount about the Green New Deal, while a slightly larger number, 14%, had heard only a little about the deal. This is largely reflective of the general ignorance by the larger society about the deal. Details of the survey are expressed in the chart below, showing the ratio of registered voters who were aware of the deal, to those who were not.
“Indeed, before we shared our description of the Deal with survey participants, we first asked them how much, if anything, they had heard about it. Very few people had heard about it. In fact, 82% of registered voters had heard ‘nothing at all’ about the Deal“, according to the Yale Program on Climate Control Communication.
CHALLENGE TO PROMOTE THE DEAL, FOR SUPPORT FROM BOTH PARTIES
From what has been observed about the larger ratio of registered voters’ ignorance about the Green New Deal, we have been posed with the challenge of promoting GND to all Americans, especially in a way that does not alienate the potential supporters of the Deal.
According to Abel Gustafson, co-author of the survey report, “Given that most Americans have strong support for the components and ideas of the Green New Deal, it becomes a communication strategy problem. From here, it’s about how you can pitch it so you can maintain that bipartisan support throughout the rest of the process.”
Due to the possibility of a subsequent increase in the partisan polarization of the Green New Deal, there is the need that the Deal accesses support from political and media elites of both parties, to ensure the alignment with the general public. Also, this would serve to ensure the maintenance of the nonpolar backing already in existence. Another way to encourage bipartisan support for the Deal, is to anticipate and alert the public of the possible arguments that could be used to tackle the validity and feasibility of the Green New Deal. Also, there should be the total avoidance of partisan framing in the communication of the deal, by either party, as this could pave the way for partisan associations with the deal, and destroy the already present bipartisan support for the idea.
From what has been observed and stated, it is very necessary to keep knowledge of the Green New Deal open and accessible to the public, especially in a manner that encourages support from both parties.