Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president is based on a simple premise: that the libs have lost their damn minds, and that the only way to beat back the right is with tepid incrementalism defined by the center as “progress.”
Hickenlooper’s entire political career has been rooted in this idea, reality be damned. Even as Hickenlooper’s term as Colorado governor coincided with Colorado increasingly becoming a bonafide liberal state, culminating in the Democrats winning unified control over the state government in November, he cautioned that he still believed Colorado was a “moderate, purple state.”
One of the most “purple” aspects of Hickenlooper’s governorship and politics is Hickenlooper’s sincere, undying love for fracking. He loves fracking more than anyone you know. He loves it so much that he threatened to sue any municipality in his state that tried to ban it. He loves it so much that he once drank Halliburton’s fracking fluid to prove that it was safe. He’s so proud about this that he bragged about it to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee.
Hickenlooper’s longtime support of fracking, which impacts the environment, the climate, and public health to an extent that we’re only beginning to understand, rather puts him at odds with most people in the Democratic Party, and particularly most of his fellow 2020 candidates. All six Senate Democrats running for president, for example, have co-sponsored the Green New Deal resolution, ranging from socialist Bernie Sanders to Hickenlooper’s fellow moderate Amy Klobuchar.
And so Hickenlooper wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post today about the Green New Deal. You can probably guess what he thinks about it—it’s too expensive, too ambitious, and too reliant on the public sector:
The resolution sets unachievable goals. We do not yet have the technology needed to reach “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” in 10 years. That’s why many wind and solar companies don’t support it. There is no clean substitute for jet fuel. Electric vehicles are growing quickly, yet are still in their infancy. Manufacturing industries such as steel and chemicals, which account for almost as much carbon emissions as transportation, are even harder to decarbonize.
Amid this technological innovation, we need to ensure that energy is not only clean but also affordable. Millions of Americans struggle with “energy poverty.” Too often, low-income Americans must choose between paying for medicine and having their heat shut off. Their situation is all the more urgent given the ongoing attempts by President Trump to cut programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
In addition to technological barriers, the Ocasio-Cortez-Markey resolution sets the Green New Deal up for failure by shifting away from private decision-making and toward the public sector — including multiple provisions with little connection to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the resolution seeks a job guarantee, with full benefits, for every person in the United States. That means the federal government would have to provide a job if the private sector did not. This provision, along with others, would produce a massive expansion of government that would likely be far too expensive and complex to execute effectively in the urgent time frame we are facing.
All of this is extremely predictable from Hickenlooper, and barely worth mentioning. What’s funnier about this op-ed is how Hickenlooper doesn’t simply slam the Green New Deal; he slams Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey’s resolution, specifically, and then proposes that there’s another kind of Green New Deal out there that’s...well, pretty much exactly the same plan to tackle climate change that every Democrat has been proposing for the past two decades.
Take this (emphasis mine):
That is why I support the concept of a Green New Deal — the idea that we should launch multiple major federal initiatives to tackle climate change and reorient our economy around clean energy. The idea has been around for at least a decade and will be one of my highest priorities as president.
The first real iteration of a “Green New Deal” was outlined by the New Economics Foundation, a left-wing think tank in the U.K. From the very beginning, the idea has focused on government action and public funding. The NEF’s Green New Deal plan, in a foreshadow of the Ocasio-Cortez-Markey plan, even called for breaking up the big banks as part of the Green New Deal, and for “building a new alliance between environmentalists, industry, agriculture, and unions to put the interests of the real economy ahead of those of footloose finance.”
The Green New Deal has never been about building an alliance between the public and private sector to solve climate change. Except that’s exactly that Hickenlooper wants to do:
Ocasio-Cortez and others have succeeded in galvanizing the country around climate change as never before. Now that we have this public support, it is imperative that we don’t abuse it. If climate change policy becomes synonymous in the U.S. psyche with higher utility bills, rising taxes and lost jobs, we will have missed our shot — and we might not get another one before it’s too late. Just as we responded to the crisis of polio and the space race, we need to bring the private and public sector together to save the planet.
Much like the many fraudulent “Medicare for All” plans currently floating around, Hickenlooper’s just piggy-backing onto an idea that’s popular with the Democratic base while not really understanding why it’s popular. He even calls the Ocasio-Cortez/Markey plan “laudable.” Does anyone actually believe that Hickenlooper thinks this? He’d get more respect just for coming out and saying it’s a pile of horseshit.
There is one silver lining to all of this, though. If someone like Hickenlooper has to do all kinds of contortions in order to stay relevant, like saying he wants a Green New Deal, just not that Green New Deal, it means that the left is driving this conversation, and the moderate wing of the Democratic Party is just playing catch-up.