Press: Democrats dare to think big

Here’s an interesting exercise: Take your own little survey. Ask your friends and fellow workers, ask anyone who you meet on the subway or street, “What’s the greatest thing our government has done for the American people?”

I guarantee you, they’re not going to say: “Another big tax cut for the rich,” which is all Republicans can brag about accomplishing in the last two years. Instead, among other bold moves, they’ll cite the New Deal, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act: historic legislation that improved the lives of millions of Americans and changed the course of history.

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And someday they’ll be talking about the Green New Deal, also.

Introduced last week by House and Senate Democrats, led by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Super PAC head spars with CNN's Cuomo over Ocasio-Cortez ad Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (D-N.Y.) and veteran Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Ocasio-Cortez endorses Markey in Senate race amid speculation over Kennedy candidacy House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge MORE (D-Mass.), the Green New Deal is breathtaking in its scope and vision, maybe the most far-reaching legislative proposal since Medicare. It tackles head-on the dual problems of income inequality and climate change. Encompassing at once a total restructuring of our environmental, energy, social and economic policy, it’s so big and bold it staggers the imagination.

Imagine an end to dependence on fossil fuels in 10 years, with 100 percent of our work, home and transportation needs supplied by renewable sources of energy. Imagine a nation criss-crossed by high-speed train service, just like France and Japan. Imagine every building in America retrofitted to be energy efficient. Imagine every young American guaranteed a college education. Imagine every American family provided basic, quality health care, family and medical leave, a family-sustaining wage and retirement security. Wow!

Yes, it’s a big dream. No, it won’t happen all at once. Nobody expects it to. At this point, it’s only a nonbinding resolution. It will take time to translate the bold ideas into specific legislation. And some of it may not happen at all. But it’s the right set of goals we should be striving for, especially in light of NASA’s urgent warning last week about the reality and danger of climate change.

And how did members of Congress, unaccustomed to challenges more demanding than passing another continuing resolution or naming a new post office, react to such a bold idea? In predictable fashion. Democrats rushed to embrace the New Green Deal, led by at least seven presidential hopefuls or potential candidates: Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Gun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Democrats spar over electoral appeal of 'Medicare for All' MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate Klobuchar: Investigation into Kavanaugh 'a sham' Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAt debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions Klobuchar, Buttigieg find themselves accidentally flying to debate together MORE (N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (Vt.), Rep. Julian Castro (Texas) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Republicans, meanwhile – who, in the last 10 years, have come up with no bold ideas of their own – could only respond by poking fun at it. “It’s crazy. It’s loony,” said Rep. Mike SimpsonMIchael (Mike) Keith SimpsonHouse passes Paycheck Fairness Act Press: Democrats dare to think big Dem chairwoman seeks watchdog probe of Park Service’s shutdown operations MORE (R-Idaho), a senior appropriator. Wyoming Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoHouse votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge Lobbying World Meet the Democratic senator trying to negotiate gun control with Trump MORE labeled it the new “socialist manifesto.” And, of course, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE weighed in with a sarcastic “Brilliant!” How predictable. How pathetic. And how out of step with what Americans want from government.

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Early polls show that the Green New Deal may be the most popular public policy people have not yet heard of. In a recent survey conducted by Yale and George Mason Universities, 82 percent of respondents said they had heard “nothing at all” about the Green New Deal. Yet 81 percent said they either strongly or somewhat endorsed its key provisions – including 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans.

The fact is, Americans, especially younger Americans, have had enough of a do-nothing Congress and a baby-step Congress. They’re hungry for big and bold new ideas worthy of the 21st century. A Green New Deal may not be the best Congress can offer. But it sure beats a wall.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”