The New Deal is often remembered for bringing the United States Social Security, the Works Progress Administration, and a blossoming of working-class culture underwritten by federal arts programs. In many parts of the country, it also cemented the vicious institutional racism of Jim Crow, the result of a devil’s bargain struck with the Southern Dixiecrats.
Equally important, though, was the New Deal’s transformation of the American landscape. Federally backed and locally implemented programs created virtually all U.S. state parks, electrified much of rural America, and put millions of people to work building and renovating everything from the Appalachian Trail to local sewer systems.
What can we learn from this history as the climate movement fights for a Green New Deal today? On this week’s show, Kate and Daniel talk to Billy Fleming, director of the McHarg Center in the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Fleming, who also worked in the Obama administration’s White House Domestic Policy Council and coauthored the Indivisible Guide, connects the dots from the 1930s to the present, discussing not just the kinds of policies that should anchor a Green New Deal, but how to advance an effective inside-outside strategy to win them as we gear up for 2021.
Kate and Daniel also touch on the defeat of the Williams Pipeline in New York, why climate politics always comes back to housing, and why Democrats should really be pushing for a green jobs program in states like Pennsylvania and Texas, which are hemorrhaging fossil fuel jobs—and also happen to be key swing states.
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Third Strike for Williams Pipeline (Jarrett Murphy, City Limits)
Kate: How Democrats Can Win Coal Country—and the 2020 Election (New Republic)
Kate, on Heather Zichal: Joe Biden’s Sketchy Climate Record (New Republic)
Design and the Green New Deal (Billy Fleming, Places Journal)
Creative Competition: Georgia Power, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Creation of a Rural Consumer Economy, 1934–1955 (Brent Cebul, Journal of American History)
To Rebuild Our Towns and Cities, We Need to Design a Green Stimulus (Billy Fleming and Alexandra Lillehei, Jacobin)
Letter: A Green Stimulus to Rebuild Our Economy (Medium)