It’s the Economy Stupid, and It Needs A Green New Deal

Joel B. Stronberg
8 min readJul 9, 2020

Winning the election may be the easiest task Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have to accomplish over the next several years. Governing, however, is another matter. In both cases, climate policy has a prominent role to play. Will a President Biden be able to do what Obama didn’t — put the nation on a path to sustainability?

It’s hardly a revelation to say that the outcome of the 2020 elections — for the presidency and Congress — are of historical importance in the nation’s fight against Earth’s warming and the transition to a sustainable economy.

The election of Donald Trump has been an unmitigated disaster for the environment. If his administration’s assault on 100 environmental reg-ulations were not bad enough, there is the time lost in moving to slow the rate of Earth’s temperature rise and helping cities and farm communities adapt to the changes wrought by it.

Climate-related issues in previous presidential election years would rank high on voter priority lists at the beginning of each cycle only to be overshadowed by issues or circumstances thought more pressing. IT WAS THE ECONOMY STUPID — for the last three election cycles.

If it wasn’t the economy, then it could have been healthcare or terrorism or almost anything but the environment. In 2016, the environment barely earned a mention by either candidate during the campaign.

A Gallup poll early in the 2016 cycle found that 62 percent of voters thought the federal government was doing too little to protect the environment. A later survey by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, found that a record number of Americans believed the climate was changing and that humans bore some responsibility for it.

Despite these numbers, the environment ended up near the bottom of the voter priority lists in 2016. (Figure 1) But that wasn’t the worst of it — not by a long shot.

According to the Environmental Voter Project, over ten million registered environmental voters never showed up at their polling places. According to other data, fewer than 80 percent of…

Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.