AOC’s MILD Success in the United States with Green New Deal

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the loudest voice in the US American climate change debate, but her Green New Deal success has been limited. 
  • AOC’s upbringing makes her a political ally to marginalised communities. 
  • AOC strives to reinvent the Democratic Party and change US American politics through this new era – including her support of the Inflation Reduction Act. 
Ståle Grut / NRKbeta (CC BY-SA 2.0)

What is AOC’s heat level MILD?

Answer: AOC’s policy approach in the United States, specifically with the Green New Deal, was not as successful as her national advocacy campaign. 

In 2021, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) introduced policy H.Res.332 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) commonly referred to as the Green New Deal. This Deal tackles emissions reduction, job creation, infrastructure investment, and social equity through a 10-year national mobilisation effort with projects such as smart power grids, pollution reduction in transportation and agriculture, and universal access to education, healthcare, and housing. 

In Congress, the Green New Deal faced strong oppositional criticism of being too ambitious and theoretical to put into practice. The reason why her several legislation attempts have failed can be attributed to the lack of bipartisan support and federal funding.

Her national success and international fame were phenomena. Defeating her long term incumbent Joe Crowley put AOC in the spotlight, which she used to spark a national conversation about a topic that was buried deep within US politics. This momentum led her to introduce The Green New Deal, ensuring that climate change could no longer be ignored in the US political agenda. Her approach to campaigning based on a grassroots strategy and knocking door-to-door of voters’ homes put her in the spotlight. 

Based on this, her controversial approach to climate change politics enabled the idea behind the Green New Deal to pass Congress walls and become of national influence. The Green New Deal has sparked a national conversation in which many people have become aware of the urgent need for addressing climate change. Furthermore, her advocacy resulted in regional Green Deal-inspired climate change legislation being introduced and implemented. Furthermore, AOC introduced and supported other vital bills, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, containing elements of her original proposal.

Although the Green New Deal failed, AOC implemented the idea of a green future in America and initiated primary legislative acts to commence this urgent transition. Indeed, the impact rests in her success in raising climate and environmental awareness in the United States. The set of policies initiated climate change debates on national television and demonstrations across the country. 

What changed AOC’s heat level?

Answer: After winning a seat in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has maintained a high profile in the progressive wing of the Democratic party.

AOC initially gained prominence by directing her policies and campaigning towards progressive Democrats, younger voters, and even non-voters, making her a symbol of the modern, digitally connected political movement. Her grassroots activism and adept use of media have been pivotal in her rise to prominence. 

Additionally, her policies have led to intense ideological battles in Congress and the media, drawing sharp contrasts with conservative Republicans. 

As she has inspired rather than implemented, her direct political agenda was not met. However, AOC and other willing Democrats successfully embedded elements of her climate agenda into the Inflation Reduction Act, showcasing her ability to adapt to legislative constraints. Her impact on climate awareness and activism has been significant at the local, state, and international levels.

One of Ocasio-Cortez’s most significant impacts has been on the Democratic Party itself. Her advocacy for progressive policies, such as the Green New Deal, has substantially influenced the party’s agenda and reshaped its priorities—both through persuasion as well as her support of other up-and-coming young, progressive candidates across the country. 

Her approach has particularly resonated in liberal urban areas and with tribal communities. AOC’s policy proposals have generated a generational divide in public opinion, with younger voters often being more receptive to her ideas than older generations.

What is driving AOC?

Answer: AOC wants to reinvent US American politics and social order by promoting social equity through the implementation of an ecological opportunity: The Green New Deal.

Ocasio-Cortez’s platform combines the fight against climate change with a focus on social and economic justice. She champions progressive values and aims to create a socially equitable society. Thereby, AOC addresses rural and tribal communities, which specifically in the case of Global Warming are negatively affected by prior climate policies of the US government.

AOC’s background as a young woman with Puerto Rican heritage and a Bronx upbringing has shaped her. She deeply identifies with the challenges faced by minorities across the country through her own experiences and as such also recognizes the disproportionate externalities these communities face in light of climate change. 

The Green New Deal serves as a comprehensive representation of AOC’s intrinsic motivation, namely that of striving for social and climate justice. At its core, the Green New Deal symbolises a call for immediate and sweeping transformations, aimed at mitigating climate change and addressing economic inequalities. Key elements include job creation in renewable energy, a “just transition” for affected workers, and a policy focus on environmental justice. These policies strive to simultaneously address the needs of the disadvantaged communities by providing employment, training, and addressing pollution and climate impacts in vulnerable areas.

What does this mean for you?

Answer: AOC has not backed down from a fight in the past and is not expected to do so now.

AOC is expected to continue advocating for climate policies, including the Green New Deal and other climate justice initiatives. In other words, an introduction of new climate-related legislation or work on integrating climate goals into other legislative efforts is to be expected in AOC’s efforts to shape the political landscape. AOC’s influence may continue to drive the implementation of climate policies at the state and local levels, where progress is more feasible.

Authors: Maria Romero and Felipa Regine Eichel

Sponsorship: This article is based on a report that the authors wrote as part of a collaboration between IE University’s IE School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs and RAIA NOW gUG. The funding for this project solely comes from the IE School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs.


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