In voting down the Green New Deal, Congress – including Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King – has turned its back on the United States and the world. More telling, the naysayers have decided that the American people lack the initiative, ambition or tenacity that characterized, for example, the Greatest Generation.

With a malignant combination of right-wing ignorance and centrist arrogance, Congress has pre-emptively determined that the rising generation cannot be greater still. Instead, it wants to strangle it at birth, and consign it to a hell of low expectations, or worse.

There is no question that the Green New Deal is ambitious. So was the idea of landing people on the moon. But as John F. Kennedy said when announcing that program in 1962, “We do (these) things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Though it won’t generate the patriotic frisson of a moon landing, the Green New Deal is immeasurably more important than the Apollo program. For the United States to survive, let alone thrive, the rising generation must overcome challenges greater than any before it ever faced.

Truly ambitious plans have many parts, and a major component of the Green New Deal is the call for social justice and legal and economic equality, aims that echo those of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

But that is not what exercises opponents of the Green New Deal. Politicians just don’t want to take on the pollution profiteers. To cover their cowardice – and it is nothing less – they all but whine that the targets of the Green New Deal are unachievable.

What utter nonsense!

For an example of ambition, try creating the 20th century with 19th-century technology. That is what the unsung parents and grandparents of the Greatest Generation did.

To take one example, when Henry Ford’s first Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1908, there were fewer than 150 miles of paved roads in the United States and no traffic lights. Drivers bought gas from hardware stores and druggists; the first drive-through filling station did not open until 1913.

Bear in mind, too, in 1908 most Americans lacked access to electricity, indoor plumbing or telephones. The first scheduled airline wouldn’t fly until 1914 (and then only across Tampa Bay). The first commercial radio station went on the air in 1920.

Nonetheless, from those meager roots, with a lot of entrepreneurial vision, hard work and massive government support at all levels, the automotive age was under way. Over the next century, we built more than 2.6 million miles of paved roads, from single-lane streets to 15-lane highways, and there are 111,100 gas stations around the country.

For anyone in the United States of 2019 – with its communications, transportation and research and development infrastructure, to say nothing of its enormous natural resources, industrial capacity and wealth – to claim that the comparatively modest goals of the Green New Deal are anything but attainable is absurd.

The claim is, in fact, a lie. And you can see it in the comments, variously vapid and vitriolic, of its opponents.

Explaining their votes against the Green New Deal, Collins and King dipped into their Hallmark handbook of political platitudes. King finds it “overly aggressive” and “too broad.” He wants to be “realistic” and “impactful.”

Calling out from the flip side of the same coin, Collins doesn’t want to be “unrealistic” and decries the Green New Deal for its call for “massive changes.”

But that is the whole point. The ability to make and seize opportunities is what makes a people great. And the youngest voting generation wants to do these things not because they are easy, or hard, but because they know their very survival depends on doing them.

In failing to comprehend in any meaningful way the overwhelming enormity of the challenges the world faces, Collins, King and their ilk have hamstrung the generations following them. Their insipid indifference to reality is as grotesque as it is unforgivable.

History will find them wanting in initiative, ambition or tenacity. Then again, if Collins and King continue in this vein, coming generations will write no history.

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