The Weekly | Young Climate Activists Push Democrats to the Left

Episode 8: ‘Hard Left’

Producer/Director Samantha Stark

Many Democrats want their 2020 presidential nominee to do two things above all: Defeat Donald Trump and protect the planet from imminent environmental disaster. But liberal activists, party officials and even some of the candidates themselves 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, a groundbreaking climate-change plan, will likely influence the party’s — and the country’s — future.

“The Weekly” tags along for three months with the young, liberal activists of the Sunrise Movement as they aggressively press their case for revolutionary measures alongside Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders. And we catch up with the Democratic frontrunner, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and other party loyalists, some of whom warn that radical policies may jeopardize their chances of beating Trump, who has mocked the threat of climate change in the past.

Featured Reporter

Astead W. Herndon has been a national political reporter for The New York Times since he joined the paper in 2018. Before that, he was a reporter in The Boston Globe’s Washington bureau covering the Trump White House and covered City Hall for the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @AsteadWesley.

Complete coverage

In the days before the presidential candidates met in Detroit for the second round of debates, Democrats grappled with a central question: Is beating Trump enough? Or should they “shake the political system like a snow globe,” embracing liberal policies like some outlined in the Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal has been touted as lifesaving by its supporters and criticized as an absurd socialist conspiracy by critics. Our climate reporter Lisa Friedman explains the proposal.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has rallied to shore up support for the Green New Deal, but some of her missteps have invited even more criticism from conservatives.

After fierce criticism from his Democratic rivals for president, Biden defended his environmental record and pledged to pursue a “green revolution” that is “rational” and affordable.

As the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, Biden’s record has come under renewed scrutiny. Astead discussed the candidate’s past positions on race for The Daily podcast.

Producer Lizzie Blenk
Director of Photography Andreas Burgess and Vanessa Carr
Video Editor Geoff O’Brien and Sean Frechette
Senior Story Editors Dan Barry, Liz O. Baylen and Liz Day
Co-Producer Lora Moftah

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