Everyone is speculating about who should run for President in 2020. The answer to that question must include Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old climate change activist who gave an interview to Democracy Now's Amy Goodman yesterday morning.
Goodman has been reporting live from the UN Climate Summit in Katowice, Poland, where global leaders have been discussing ways to implement the Paris Climate Accord. While representatives from the U.S. troll attendees by singing the praises of coal during their presentations, Thunberg has been schooling UN representatives about climate policy with a steely gaze and clarity of purpose that will likely be completely absent in the 2020 race for the presidency. Check this out:
In the interview with Goodman, Thunberg says the activism of the Parkland protestors inspired her to hold a climate strike on the steps of the Swedish parliament earlier this year. Initially she stopped going to school for a week to hold the strike, but eventually she scaled back to Friday-only protests.
In her speech to the UN, she addresses detractors who scold her for not being in school. "Some people say that we should be in school instead. But why should we be studying for a future that soon will be no more, and when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future?" Normally I would dismiss this type of reasoning as clever nonsense and tell the kid to get back in school. But. Uh. We have 12 years before shit starts hitting the fan. It's becoming increasingly difficult to argue that kids should stay in school rather than doing everything they can to stir up a climate revolution and/or prepare for the coming water wars.
Thunberg also smartly recognizes that the political will to do anything about climate change isn't going to come from the top. So, to build solidarity among the masses, she constantly shames do-nothing politicians and calls for a large movement to get behind her. "We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again," she said to members at the UN conference. "Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago."
Thunberg also has Asperger syndrome, which she says adds a special intensity to her focus on this issue. When asked how the syndrome affects her activism, she said, "It means I usually don't enjoy participating in the social game that the rest of you seem so fond of, and I don't like lying, and I see things black and white," she told Goodman in the interview. This is the kind of language I want to be hearing from my President on this issue.
I know what everyone is going to say. A fifteen-year-old is too young to be president! Moreover, Swedish immigrants can't be Presidents! True, true. Very true. Very wise and true. But I don't think Thunberg should actually be president. I think she should unofficially campaign for the presidency so she can school Democrats on how to talk about climate change in a way that makes people listen. (Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also doing a good job talking about the need for a Green New Deal, but she already won her race and is also too young.) I want to see her on the debate stage batting away equivocations from centrists. I want to see Thunberg giving premium side-eye to anyone who comes at her for not being in school. This radical solution is the only way to foreground climate change in 2020, unless, you know. Jay runs.