Another reason this is a victory is that she has vastly broadened the debate on the subject, from miserly talk nibbling at the problem on the edges, to actually turning the discussion into one of solving the crisis. This is also known as expanding the Overton window, That is the term for what is considered reasonable debate and what isn’t. It is truly bewildering that, in a city full of think tanks, the public thinking and conversation about climate has consisted of little more than “Yes it’s worrisome, but … um …” If that. AOC called it out, loud and clear, as the imminent crisis it in fact is, and suddenly the conversation about addressing it is underway. I’ve yet to hear anybody plausibly counter her urgency on the issue or defend the lackadaisical to nonexistent action (actually we’ve been going backward under Trump) that everyone seemed altogether comfortable with and uncritical of before AOC showed up.
And still another victory is in the way she enlarged the frame to include discussion of the potential positive side to restructuring our energy economy. In Washington, we love to talk about how you can generate winners as well as losers, but so far the climate discussion has been all been about downside. There will be costs! Inconvenience! Aside from the shameful fact that tomorrow’s citizens, you know, our kids and theirs, haven’t made it onto the cost-benefit scale as potential winners if we should act responsibly now, somebody needed to shift the focus to the fact that any national undertaking of ambitious scale would produce a lot of real and immediate winners. In jobs-building, maintaining and profiting from the energy economy that we need to be transitioning to in any case.
Thank you, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.