On this week’s episode of The Times’s new TV show “The Weekly,” I tagged along with the liberal activists of the Sunrise Movement as they aggressively press their case for revolutionary measures to combat climate change. And last week I reported on a hard-to-miss demonstration in Detroit by thousands of environmental activists before the first of the two presidential primary debates.

Many Democrats want their 2020 nominee to do two things above all: Defeat Donald Trump and protect the planet from imminent environmental disaster. But they disagree on how far left the party should go to successfully accomplish both tasks. How they settle their differences over proposals like the Green New Deal will likely influence the party’s — and the country’s — future.

The Green New Deal has been touted as life-saving by its supporters and criticized as an absurd socialist conspiracy by critics. My colleague, climate reporter Lisa Friedman, explains the proposal.

I joined the New York Times in 2018. Before that, I was a Washington-based political reporter and a City Hall reporter for The Boston Globe.

Twitter: @AsteadWesley

Proof: https://i.redd.it/qmqzo44bo2e31.jpg

EDIT:Thank you for all of your questions! My hour is up, so I'm signing off. But I'm glad that I got to be here. Thank you.

Comments: 2277 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

ImHighlyExalted457 karma

I remember at one point I heard about guaranteeing the financial security of those who are "unwilling to work."

That was from this proposal, correct? Is it still a part of it?

What other things are included that have nothing to do with climate control?

thenewyorktimes111 karma

They do have a jobs guarantee outlined in their proposal. That's still in it. Among other things, the green new deal resolution calls for a whole host of progressive policies, including medicare for all, free college, and reparations-style investment communities that have been hurt by racially discriminatory govt policies

TwiIight_SparkIe188 karma

Why do Democrats insist on moving further to the Left when doing so will only alienate Moderates, resulting in the re-election of Trump?

thenewyorktimes115 karma

This is the argument of groups like Third Way and Henry Cuellar, who were presented in our episode. However, while they believe that moving to the left will alienate moderate swing voters, progressives also believe they own the key to winning in 2020. In their view, the Democratic nominee needs to excite constituencies who sat out in 2016 or are infrequent Democratic voters, and they do so with bold policy ideas. Sometimes moderates act like they're the only ones thinking about the general election. Not true, progressives just have a different theory on what's necessary to defeat Trump

Corporal-Hicks133 karma

The more progressive members of America are super centralized around large urban areas. The president is elected through an electoral college which is distributed through out the country. If the plan is to move further left, how do you expect to excite ultra progressives in areas where they are not existent?

thenewyorktimes70 karma

This is a great question, and an existential problem for Democrats and progressives. For one, this is why you see increasing calls to ban the electoral college in the presidential race for the first time. But also, progressive reject the premise that their policies only appeal to those in urban centers. They envision a coalition of working class people across races, building on the Obama coalition that we saw in 2012. Remember, Obama won both elections in a landslide. Progressives think about converting people who turned to Trump in 2016, but much of their time is really spent bringing back the millions of Obama voters who sat out four years later. And the Democrats in, say, MIlwaukee, who did not back Clinton in big enough numbers. That can help you win Wisconsin, too

nypvtt42 karma

Where does the US rank on total contribution to fossil fuel emissions globally? If the US institutes The Green New Deal will it have a significant impact on overall global emissions?

I'm skeptical this will be enacted in the US but I'm certain this won't be enacted in countries like Iran, China, Libya, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, etc., etc., etc.

thenewyorktimes23 karma

the United States is a significant global polluter, but is by no means alone. GND advocates believe just as impt as it is for US to decrease emissions, it sets a global standard that more countries would follow.

schmerpmerp34 karma

Have you folks or any of the activists looked into the demographics of voters drawn to an environmentally left platform? Does anyone have a sense as to what states could be targeted for 2020 using that kind of data -- with the Senate and the White House in mind?

thenewyorktimes32 karma

The demographics are a great question -- i'll focus on race. While Sunrise certainly has a racially diverse leadership group, like Varshini and allies like Rhiana Gunn-Wright, their core base remains many young, white college students. At one rally we attended in Washington, on the campus of Howard University, an HBCU, the crowd was almost exclusively white. This is a challenge for them. To make an imprint in the primary, they need to diversify the coalition of people who care about the Green New Deal. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made this a top priority, but it's also why they believe that adding the social justice goals with the climate ones are so important.

The other piece of irony: the 2020 race's most prominent moderate, Joe Biden, enjoys strong support from black voters. For the Green New Deal to become party policy, they need to break that.

IronCalves30 karma

Why don’t climate activists try to get their donors to invest in areas so deeply entrenched into things like coal?

Work on providing different economic opportunities to rural Americans rather than giving money to lawyers, who commonly run climate change groups.

thenewyorktimes55 karma

Actually, Sunrise has focused on rural areas. Part of their Green New Deal tour included reaching out to rural Americans who had been displaced by coal jobs. Remember when AOC tried to visit a coal plant in Kentucky before the GOP Congressman backed off the offer? They see these people as potential political allies.

ncookie2220 karma

How does the Sunrise Movement feel about the moderate Democrats who hesitate to enact large changes in order to keep their seats or to help the party? Also... GO SPURS

thenewyorktimes19 karma


Sunrise wants to push moderates. They do so through a variety of methods, including confrontational tactics like birddogging, asking candidates to sign policy pledges, and working with them on crafting policy behind the scenes. But they also work with Justice Democrats, the group who is seeking primary challengers for moderate Dems in blue seats. They hope that threat can also cause more centrists Democrats to come to their side.

curtisjunk18 karma

I'm curious why you haven't used the fact based record of centrism in the Democratic party in your reporting? The party has been operating under a centrist paradigm since the DLC plans in the late 80's/early 90's. The Third Way may be "new" in that there was no such organization a few years ago, but it's operating philosophies are simply re-branded versions of the DLC paradigm. Given their claim that centrism is the only route to electoral success, what is the actual record of centrist success? How much ground have they gained or lost to GOP control from local, state and federal offices in the 30-40 years they have had the chance to prove that centrism is the only way for Democrats to succeed?

thenewyorktimes34 karma

We presented two theories of what Democrats say they need to do in 2020 to win. Certainly the centrists have had there for a while, and have experienced significant electoral losses using a model that tries to court more moderate swing voters. They point to the 2018 midterm election results, where the Democrats that helped take back the House in swing districts and statehouses in the Midwest were actually fairly moderate, even as the party's left got significant attention.

We also presented those who disagree with the Third Way. Sunrise, and progressives, have their own theory of the case, which is that they motivate a new class of voter -- including many who sat out in 2016 -- to come to the polls. Repeatedly in our interviews, I pressed Third Way on this strategy, and asked them about whether Clinton's loss disproved their belief in moderation. They demurred, citing statistics that Americans are uncomfortable with some parts of Medicare for All and that it represents an electoral risk. This is what the primary will sort out. Which of these two theories will become the dominant view of Democrats moving forward.

thenewyorktimes5 karma

Hi everyone! Thx all for the questions, and for watching Sunday's episode. It's my first AMA! I'm going to go through and start responding to some of these questions now! Glad to see all my Spurs fans representing early, also. #COYS

LargeWu5 karma

How are you changing your messaging for candidates in moderate, battleground swing districts vs liberal urban districts?

thenewyorktimes19 karma

If you mean how Sunrise is, they do have slight messaging differences depending on their community. But one thing they try to make clear, is that climate change will impact everyone, no matter the ideology or race, eventually. They talk about prioritizing communities who it may affect first, like marginalized ones or ones with black and brown residents, but they also took their Green New Deal tour to states like Kentucky and Texas, not exactly liberal hotbeds.

HaLoGuY0074 karma

What are some cutting-edge and groundbreaking green policy ideas currently being enacted at the state and local level in the U.S., and what are some policies in place in other countries that we can look to for inspiration here?

Just want to note that the book Climate of Hope, by Michael Bloomberg and former Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, was very enlightening as to the tremendous steps being taken at the city-level in this country, and gave me cause for hope even with a federal administration doing everything it can to prevent progress in what I feel is the most pressing existential threat facing the U.S. and the world today.

Also, as I said in the last one of these AMA's, really appreciate all the work NYT does keeping the American citizenry informed, and love watching the Weekly on Hulu!

Also COME ON YOU SPURS I love your twitter man hope you're not too stressed during F5 season

thenewyorktimes6 karma

Thanks so much for supporting our work and the Weekly. This is a great question. On the presidential trail, you always hear 2020 candidates start with talking about the Paris Climate accord, but most climate experts and the Sunrise Movement, really believe that's a baby step in reversing the worst effects of climate change. There's actually localities and states like New York City that have passed local versions of the Green New Deal, that includes its aims at retrofitting buildings, and emissions reductions. But let's remember, the GND also includes social goals like jobs guarantee and prioritizing communities that have lost jobs with coal, etc. We are yet to see local projects that really match its size and scope. Most experts say its the most ambitious proposal around.


madamerobinson4 karma

Do you think older/established democrats dismiss it because they are scared or because they do think is bollocks?

thenewyorktimes19 karma

It's not, in my opinion, that older or establishment Democrats dismiss climate change. Let's remember, the Nancy Pelosi-backed special committee on climate just released a non-Green New Deal version of climate plan that had pretty big goals, like the emissions reduction to net-zero by 2050. What they fear is the politics of the Green New Deal.

Because it includes a full re-imagination of the society, including more progressive proposals like free college, and Medicare for all, they ask why can't you take the climate parts and leave out the other stuff. In the mind of the establishment Dems, climate action is popular, but disruptive social action is not.

Tropikal3 karma

To what extent do you think the current debate within the Democratic Party on how left to go is overblown? Are enough voters paying attention at this point for that debate to even matter, especially considering how far ahead Biden is polling?

Do you think Spurs are going to sign one of (or both) of Lo Celso and Fernandes? What ought to be done with Eriksen? Is this the best Spurs side we're ever going to see?

thenewyorktimes12 karma

Love the two-sided questions:

  1. I don't think it's overblown. Certainly Biden is ahead at this stage but voters remain undecided, and the party's left wing (Sanders/Warren), have a more combined share of votes than Biden at this stage. Let's also remember that state by state polling has been much closer than national ones, so -- in Iowa -- it's unclear how much Biden is ahead, if at all. As you can see in the Democratic debates, Biden is increasingly engaging with his Democratic rivals, because he knows the race is closer than the national polls may suggest.
  2. I try to have confidence in Levy, but I am nervous. I think we'll get Sessegnon. Unsure about Lo Celso/Fernandes. I trust the club with Eriksen, it's such an attitude thing that I don't know if we can make a judgement call from here. either way -- I don't want him going to united.
  3. Wouldn't call this the best spurs side yet. If we kept eriksen/signed lo celso/bought a RB. You could talk me into it.

SalisburyJohnof2 karma

Would you take the loss Eriksen and gain of Fernandes?

thenewyorktimes2 karma

COYS. I think Eriksen, if he's invested, is world-class on his day. But he's looked off in pre-season and has made clear he wants to be elsewhere. I'd take his known quality over Fernandes/Lo Celso if it's a either/or, but if Poch feels he won't be at his best season, I'd rather a swap.

chowesmith2 karma

Hey Astead! I know you’re a massive Tottenham fan so I’m curious about your thoughts on the future of soccer in the US. Do you see a day when MLS is as a big a deal as other “major” leagues are to the average American? Will the USMNT ever catch up to the USWNT’s level of success?

thenewyorktimes2 karma

I think the MLS has already shown the capacity for growth, and the quality of play is much improved. Still has a ways to go, and that's particularly true for support of women's game. As for the USMNT, I want to see them create a youth pipeline that's diverse racially and economically, which I think would create more national investment in the team, and improve the quality. .

oiseda1 karma

earlier this year, senator feinstein kinda infamously dismissed sunrise movement protestors by saying, among other things, that the green new deal doesn't have the votes in the senate. i'm curious if you could provide a more detailed accounting of current and future (post-2020) senate calculus regarding climate legislation.

what dem senators could potentially cause roadblocks for popular climate provisions and what gop senators could potentially be brought around to supporting wide-sweeping reform? what incentives could potentially be offered to win these senators over?

thenewyorktimes2 karma

The Senate is a real challenge. This is why Jay Inslee, the Washington Governor who is running a climate-change centric 2020 campaign, has called for the elimination of the filibuster, so big legislation can be more easily passed. Right now, Democrats are in the minority, so climate legislation is a non-starter. But even if they were in the majority, centrists Democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia have been deeply resistant to policies like the Green New Deal. It is unlikely, even in a Democratic Senate, that there would be 60 votes for that kind of transformational policy any time in the near future.

CockADoodleBOOM1 karma

How do you think Coutinho would fit in this current Spurs side? A straight Eriksen swap? More of a wide forward with Dele as a 10?

thenewyorktimes2 karma

Coutinho for me has always worked as a wide forward with space to cut in. Would be interesting in this side, but I don't think there's any validity to the rumors. Was an exciting player though, would love to see him back to his best

Twrd43211 karma

The Sunrise Movement has been concrete in terms of the economic goals they want to achieve, universal healthcare, free college etc. But what do they want exactly in terms of climate policy? They were quite receptive to Inslee’s policy but not Biden’s or Beto’s.

thenewyorktimes2 karma

Here's a great explainer from my colleagues on the climate team: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/climate/green-new-deal-questions-answers.html. You're right, they have been less receptive to Biden's and Beto's, but that's partially because the GND is more than just a climate policy. In our story, the Rhiana Gunn-Wright said, "“We think that if we have a society, even if it’s green, if we have a country that’s just as stratified as it was before, it’s a failure." You can read that story here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/04/us/politics/democratic-candidates-climate-change.html

manjarofmydreams0 karma

Just how big is the sunrise movement and how are they disseminating their messages to other young people? I'm not so young anymore (although I share the same concerns and passion) so I perhaps am not aware of the channels they use. But I see that on Facebook they have less than 50,000 likes, no substantial following on Instagram and 1,000 subscribers on Instagram.

I would think that even if they are reaching a targeted audience through other channels it would be madness to not use these huge markets to reach more people and engage with the people who feel the same way as they do.

thenewyorktimes1 karma

This is a good question. Sunrise's power really comes in connecting themselves with local activists in every city they attend. In Detroit this weekend, for example, they partnered with a bunch of community groups to protest the debate stage and call for more climate focus. They work with Sunrise/New Consensus/Justice Democrats on big national actions. And of course, it's their connection with Sanders/AOC/Warren and others that gives them inroads in the presidential race.