The 2020 Elections: Shall we pray or Organize?

Georgeann Johnson
Thursday, July 4, 2019


IN THINKING ABOUT THE DIFFERENT CANDIDATES, I decided to see where they stood on various issues. Because I think the Climate Crisis is the most important, and certainly the most urgent, issue I started there. And because I think the Green New Deal is the best bet for the USA to address the Climate Crisis, I checked out the candidates positions. All of the proposed top ten candidates have some alignment with the Green New Deal. These candidates are Co-Sponsors of the GND: Sanders, Warren, Booker, Harris, Gillibrand and Klobuchar. Castro is a supporter; Buttigieg is a supporter, and Inslee is a supporter in spirit. Joe Biden has released a lengthy plan of his own to combat Climate Change, but has supported the GND in a "middle of the road" fashion.

And just what is the GND? It is an Overarching Vision to reach the goal of "Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources." And by 2030. The areas under this vision are healthcare; education; transportation; housing; manufacturing; energy; job creation and security; infrastructure; agriculture.

A writer in the Science section of the Atlantic said:"Above all, the Green New Deal is a leftist resurrection of federal industrial policy. It is not an attempt to control the private sector, according to its authors; it is a bid to collaborate with it. And it draws on a set of ideas with a rich American history, extending long before the great World War II mobilization to which the Green New Deal is regularly compared.

Most of the candidates have put out their own plans, each with its own ideas and plans to address these areas. Here are some of the ideas from some of the candidates; the majority are using a 10 year framework.

Senator Warren would invest 2 Trillion dollars in federal funding in clean energy programs. She calls this a Green Marshall Plan that would encourage: (1) other countries to buy US clean energy technology; (2)Replace the Commerce Dept. with a Dept of Economic Development; this Dept. would oversee a new national jobs strategy in alignment with the GND. Her plan would create a million jobs.

Senator Biden would have a 1.7 Trillion investment in an embrace of the framework of the GND. He embraces the central principles of the GND, if not all the details. His plan promises to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050. His plan would use new Executive Orders to place demands on Congress to pass legislation with enforcement mechanisms and incentives for clean energy innovations.

Senator Harris has been one of the first to endorse the GND. She has a track record as California Attorney General is taking on corporations that transgress California environmental laws, So she has proven to be a fighter, but she has been short on details of any plans.

Mayor Buttigieg says that aggressive and ambitious measures are needed. He wants to build on economic opportunities and suggests Carbon Tax and Dividends as a strategy. He connects Climate Change with agricultural devastation.

Governor Inslee has been active in Washington with a Climate strategy. He plans to decarbonize the economy sector by sector on an immediate 10 year plan.

This plan has the following components:
1) Upgrading existing buildings
2)Building Climate- Smart Infrastructure using sustainable transportation, clean water, and affordable housing.
5)Ensuring good Union Jobs

The plan identifies the programs and mechanisms required to achieve its goals, Many of them already exist in some form.

Senator Sanders Green peace has recently critizised Sanders for not releasing a full plan for Climate Change. His office says they are collecting info for a comprehensive proposal on the GND.  It will contain the need to address how best to use Executive Powers.

Senator Booker is a Co-Sponsor of the GND  He has been the most consistent candidate in linking the environment and social justice. He is a member of Senate Environment Committee where he proposes to halt Federal fossil fuel projects and retrain workers.

Senator Gillibrand is also a Co-Sponsor of the GND.  She is calling for legislation that will "build resiliency in a range of infrastructure in low-income and frontline communities." She is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee where she has sponsored bills for a Carbon Tax and for the Green New Deal.

Senator Castro is a supporter of the GND. He is definitive about not subsudizing Bio Oil.  He has not yet released a detailed Fossil Fuel Plan.

Senator Klobuchar is a supporter of the GND, but calls it aspirational rather than prescriptive.  She is for carbon taxes and would support research into carbon capture.

GREENPEACE Has given grades to these 10 candidates as they stand right now.

Some have released complete plans and some haven't. Here are the grades:

At top of the class are INSLEE AND BOOKER with As. SANDERS AND WARREN

Close behind with a B+ BIDEN AND GILLEBRAND with Bs. Buttegieg and Harris with C's. Castro and Klobuchar with C-. You may guess that Trump and Weld received F's.

All ten candidates are not taking money from fossil fuel groups.


All candidates agree on Medicare for All; it is how you get there where there are variations. It is Sanders who has been the strongest voice for Medicare for All.

Warren, Booker, Gillibrand, and Klobuchar are all co-sponsors of Bernie's bill.

Buttiegieg seems to differ the most by wanting a slow glide to single-payer and by maintaining support for private insurers. Klobuchar supports limited public options; Warren wants an incremental approach while preserving private insurance. Harris is a co-sponsor but leaves room for incremental reforms. Castro is a solid supporter of the plan. Inslee is the one that has differed by signing a public option into law in Washington; this Public Option has premiums 10% lower than private offerings.


THAT is my concern, because the GND is about carbon-capture, zero emissions, etc. but  Agriculture is hand-in-glove with a clean atmosphere.

So I searched around for the actions or words from the Ten Candidates about this issue. Here are some.

Middle-of-the-road Joe is for limited subsidy payments to Big Agriculture. "Limited"?

Both Booker and Warren support a Farmer's Bill of Rights. In 2018 Booker proposed a merger moratorium for large farms and food producers. He has been talking farm policy for 5 years with Family Farm Action.

Castro points out the value of immigrants for revitalizing rural communities. He wants to move towards protection of air and water by appointing environmentalists to the EPA. However, he has yet to get a good standing from Greenpeace.

Warren's agricultural platform includes strong antitrust enforcement in the agricultural sector. She wants to unwind the Bayer-Monsanto merger which is just about the most unholy alliance one could think of. She wants to break up Agribusiness giants. She has a 2 trillion dollar green manufacturing plan. Unlike many of the others she frames food security as a national security issue. Because of this she sees foreign ownership of US farmland as a threat to food security. Personally I was shocked to learn that foreign ownership of farmland amounts to a land mass as big as Virginia.

Senator Harris....She has had an endorsement from Dolores Huerta.  Harris introduced a Fairness for Farmworkers act in 2017. She says that she would not have voted for NAFTA, but she lacks in the specifics.

Governor Inslee He strongly supports organic agriculture and Going Local. He also supports protection for scare resources.

Senator Klobuchar She serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and also on the anti-trust subcommittee. She has ideas for tackling the consolidated power of Agricultural corporations and also their Board of Directors. She has pushed Farm Bill Conservation projects and co-sponsored the Farm Family Relief Act.

Senator Booker has built an environmental brand by serving on the Senate Environmental Committee. This brand centers on racial and class equity when it intersects with environmental issues. He ranks strongly in Workers, Communities and Environmental Justice.

Senator Sanders has released his Revitalizing Rural America plan which takes on corporate consolidation in Agriculture. He supports Regenerative Agriculture; and a plan to reform subsidies so more goes to small farmers. He has strongly covered the bases in almost all of the sectors of the GND.

Senator Gillibrand is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and sub committees of the Environment and Public Works. She is a great supporter of dairy farms and small farmers and this quote reflects it. "If we’re going to rebuild this economy, we need to keep families on their farms and support rural communities so they can thrive.” - Kirsten

Mayor Buttigieg seems to focus on small town manufacturing and on Trumps's tariffs when it comes to Agriculture. He does connect Climate change and Agricultural Devastation.