Last Friday, a group of Sunrise activists and allies occupied Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI12) office in Ypsilanti, and several were arrested and taken to jail, as I wrote about here. They were asking Rep. Dingell a single question: do you support the Green New Deal – yes or no? They’ve been asking her that question repeatedly, for 10 months, and she won’t give them a yes or no answer. They occupied her office to hold her accountable to her constituents.
Many Democrats felt that was going too far.
We should be protesting Republicans, they argued, not Democrats.
This is a stark difference between the progressive movement within the Democratic Party, and the rest of the Democratic Party. Progressives are growing a political movement. We fight for policy goals, not particular politicians or parties.
Consider what just happened in Virginia. Working people and unions worked hard to take all three branches of Virginia government from Republicans and put them in Democratic hands. The Democratic governor, flanked by Republicans, just told business leaders “I can’t foresee Virginia taking actions [that would include] repeal of the right-to-work law”. After Democrats flipped both houses of the state legislature, the major union priority is already off the table before they’ve even taken office. Working class votes flipped those seats at the ballot box. Not big dollar donors.
This is what you get when you vote “blue no matter who” and don’t hold your representatives accountable to the people – betrayal of working people, betrayal of unions, betrayal of the 99% in homage to the 1%. Just like Republicans. When centrist Democrats take corporate or big donor money, this is what they’re being bribed for – throwing everyone but their big donors under the bus.
Rep. Dingell’s situation is parallel. The Sunrise activists who occupied her offices are all 25 and under, though many allies are older. People 25 and under will be living with the worst consequences of global warming long after Dingell (66) is out of politics. The decisions she makes right now on the Green New Deal will affect them for 60, 70, 80 years. Seven decades have gone by without the Dingells (a congressional dynasty of 80+ years) or the Democrats doing anything to address global warming seriously at the scale of the problem. Saving the planet is the major issue for young people – if the environment has a bleak future, so do they. Young people have every right and reason to reject half measures and platitudes. To ask their congresswoman for a clear and direct answer to a simple yes or no question. When she doesn’t answer, to occupy her office – even get handcuffed, arrested, and taken to jail if that’s what it takes.
They’re being thrown under the bus.