When Sunrise started, we were terrified. California burned, floods covered the Midwest, scientists warned us that we needed transformative government action if we were going to survive. And our politicians had no plan to stop the climate crisis.
It’s fine, they said.
We refused to accept that answer. Instead, we set out to make climate a defining issue for our generation and a political priority for our politicians. We took to the streets in the millions, young people started Sunrise hubs across the country, we elected the next generation of politicians. Together, we inspired young people across America to fight for a Green New Deal.
Fear turned to hope. And that hope changed the 2020 election. Democrats responded. Over 20 presidential candidates backed the Green New Deal. President-elect Biden borrowed our ideas to write his climate plan. And when it was time for President Biden to announce his signature piece of legislation, he put forth a climate and jobs plan.
In just 2 years, we built a new consensus in the Democratic Party – finally, it was understood that the climate crisis demanded a full transformation of our economy and society that the government must lead.
After years of organizing, climate strikes, sit-ins, blockading the White House, and even some of our members going on hunger strike, we pushed President Biden to pass a climate bill for the first time in the history of this country.
It’s an overdue investment in America’s clean energy industry that opens new doors, but is also a reminder that corruption and greed still dominate our politics. The bill was a compromise on a compromise. It won’t stop dangerous oil and gas extraction, but it signals that the transition to a new world has begun – that’s about more than clean energy.
For the first time in decades, most Americans now see the U.S. government as a major force in our lives. Especially as a result of the COVID pandemic, most of us realize the government is needed to survive a crisis, for better or worse.
And we’re facing a lot of crises. We use our desks as shields from bullets in our schools. Thousands of people feel the weight of student loan debt every day. Schools are crumbling as hurricanes rage fiercer and fires burn larger.
The truth is, the transition to a new world has already begun. Donald Trump and his hateful ideology have taken over the Republican Party. The fossil fuel industry has played a central role in holding our democracy hostage from climate action. The climate crisis has already transformed our Earth. And as this new world forms, we must decide how we survive this hotter, more brutal world together.
But the question is – will our government work for us to stop the crises we face and build the world we dream of, or will it help billionaires profit and violent extremists dictate what we learn in school and control our bodies?
So the fossil fuel’s coalition of white supremacists, oligarchs, and corporate executives are holding our democracy hostage, and they’re changing their playbook. They’re no longer pretending they’re fighting for small government, and instead are doubling down on using the government to ban books and abortions, and to destroy our public institutions. They’re seizing on our schools and turning classrooms into battlegrounds. This coalition has been playing the long game: taking over every level of government so they can force their life-threatening agenda on all of us.
And they’re not going down without a fight. From the fossil fuel corporations clawing to get back by furiously raising gas prices on working people, to a new class of billionaires that’s emerging trying to get rich from the transition – we’re facing new attacks from all angles.
Just as our world changes, we must change our strategies, too.
Five years ago, we turned fear into hope. We aimed for the very top of American politics. Now, we’ve got to turn that hope into a discipline, and nurture the seeds of revolution from the bottom-up. And the facts still remain in our favor.
Across this country, tens of thousands of young people still dream of a Green New Deal. For the first time in decades, people see climate as a real priority. We’ve achieved massive government action to kickstart our transition to a better world. And election cycle after election cycle, it’s our generation that is saving the country from their agenda.
It’s time for us to take over, classroom by classroom, school by school, city by city.
If we build our own mass movement, if we demand power in our hometowns, we can take over the country we only know in our dreams.
If we can remake our schools to take on the greatest crisis we’ve ever seen, we will pave the way for the rest of society to follow.
If we organize everyday people to bring the Green New Deal to cities and towns across the country, we can win local Green New Deal policy that proves to our neighbors and our leaders that this is the solution we need.
If we build a movement of thousands of young organizers across race and class, we will change the common sense that has led us to this broken world, and we can overpower the dirty money and corporations that currently have a stranglehold on our politicians by voting them out and voting our people in.
And finally, we’ll bring a fully funded Green New Deal to every corner of America.
Day-by-day, door-to-door, hand-in-hand with our neighbors, we’ll sow the seeds of a Green New Deal from the bottom up.