Can such an ambitious plan be achieved without coercion?
Learning to see objectively is a challenge. First, we tend to be influenced in part by what we want to see happen. Second, we tend to live in denial about some things we’d prefer not to see. Third, we all carry built-in biases.
My father was a chemist who was involved with the development of latex paints. On one occasion he brought home a book that tested people for color blindness. There were a hundred pages of plates with colored spheres and such which could be used to identify various kinds of color blindness. This book helped us understand why my neighbor could tell the difference between a red and forest green mustang.
In other words, despite our best intentions, none of us precisely sees things as they are. I lump myself in with the masses.
What follows are a series of statements which lead me to a conclusion that I would prefer not see, but believe is prescient.
1. Before going to war national leaders need to obtain popular traction.
What this means is that when the U.S. in World Wars I and II planned to go to war against Germany and later Japan, they needed to obtain support from public opinion. Hence there is a rollout of propaganda to reframe the issues and make them important to the general populous.
2. In France, 19 weeks of protests with riots followed a 12-cent rise in gas tax.
It seems to be getting surprisingly little media coverage, but the disruption in France since last November has been quite disturbing. The initial catalyst for this current violence was a 12-cent rise in the gas tax.
3. The language of the Green New Deal is currently being framed as if we are going to war.
The problems may be serious that it is trying to address, but the call to arms being suggested seems potentially 100-fold more explosive than a 12-cent gas hike. It will affect everyone in the most stringent ways.
4. We’ve forgotten the sacrifices American made in World War II.
Gasoline, sugar, coffee, meat, canned food, clothes and shoes were rationed. Women went into the workforce to fill jobs as men went off to war. Children were put to work gathering things to recycle. To do all this the masses had to be on won over to “the cause.” Americans can rise to the occasion, but they have to persuaded that these sacrifices are necessary.
5. Confidence in our government has been shaken since that time.
In answer to the question, “How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what’s right — just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time?”
In 1958: 76% said “just about always” or “most of the time”
In 1970: 50% (Post-Warren Commission Report; Viet Nam)
In 1976: 33% (Post-Watergate)
In 2017: 18%
(Source: Pew Research)
Conclusion: With our current polarized leadership, I do not see a Green New Deal being undertaken peacefully. Do you?
In light of the what we’re seeing in France, I am more than a little concerned about what the next few years will bring.