Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal arrived last week to an uneven reception. Six contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination endorsed it. Some commentators on the left gushed over it. More on the right and even center-left condemned it. Almost all of them, however, are misunderstanding it.
The Green New Deal is best seen not as a policy proposal but as a political manifesto. It seeks to define what it means to be a progressive in the Trump era. In so doing it draws a clear distinction with centrist Democrats — exactly what progressives need to do in order to take a leading role within the party.