With the 2022 midterm elections less than four months away, a New York Times/Siena College poll revealed that just 1 percent of registered voters viewed climate change as a “top priority,” let alone the most important issue facing the nation. The poll placed climate change far behind concerns about inflation, the economy, record crime rates, and the humanitarian crisis on America’s southern border. Even among voters younger than 30 — the demographic that is typically most energized by debates about environmental policy — the corresponding figure was a mere 3 percent.
The same poll showed that public concern about climate change has actually declined significantly from the already-low levels of concern documented by previous surveys. In the summer of 2020, climate change ranked a lowly eleventh in a Pew Research Center poll. In September 2020, a Gallup poll likewise found that climate change ranked eleventh in a list of registered voters’ top concerns – well behind such items as the economy, terrorism/national security, the COVID-19 pandemic, health care, education, race relations, gun policy, crime, abortion, and immigration.
Notwithstanding the public’s consistent and overwhelming lack of concern about climate change as an urgent problem, the main concern of the Biden administration and the entire agenda of the Democrat Party has been, and continues to be, driven by this issue. In the words of President Joe Biden, “climate change poses an existential threat” – in fact, the chief existential threat to the United States – greater than terrorism, or Chinese expansionism, or the invasion by 2,400,000 unvetted illegal migrants annually across America’s broken southern border.
So obsessive is the focus of Democrat leaders on the alleged “existential threat of climate change,” that a centerpiece of their policies to oppose it is a war on fossil fuels, beginning with the cancelling of the Keystone pipeline, the shutting down of the ANWR oil field in Alaska, and the refusal for more than 17 months to sell oil-and-gas drilling leases on federal lands. An economic consensus which includes such influential voices as former Obama Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, has singled out the war on fossil fuels as the chief driver of rising gas prices and the record inflation in the economy as a whole. Yet, despite the lack of public support, and the immediate destructive consequences of the anti-climate change policies, the radical leadership of the Democrat policy is adamant in pursuing them. According to Bernie Sanders, a lifetime supporter of communist dictators and bankrupt socialist regimes, “the climate crisis is not only the single greatest challenge facing our country,” but “is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just and equitable future,” by which he means a bankrupt, socialist dictatorship.
How is it possible that there should be such a disconnect between a democratic government and its constituents? How was such a radical consensus formed over such a controversial and contested issue – a consensus so strong and so anti-democratic that by 2022 it had resulted in the lowest approval ratings ever recorded for a sitting president and his political party? The answer can be found in the vast network of tax-exempt foundations and advocacy groups, unscrutinized and accountable to no one, that developed the analyses and policy recommendations that make up the “Green New Deal” in the decades prior to its official launch in 2019.
When Democrat Senator Ed Markey and former bartender and current congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first announced the Green New Deal in February 2019, it was already supported by 600 leftist organizations as well as 67 House Members and 11 U.S. Senators — all Democrats.
What was this Shadow Party’s agenda? The Green New Deal calls for the U.S. economy to achieve “net zero greenhouse gas emissions” by the year 2030 and, in the words of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, to “transition off all nuclear and all fossil fuels as soon as possible.” The Green New Deal would also mandate: (a) trillions of dollars in inflationary public expenditures on government-approved, energy-saving “upgrades” and “retrofits” of all existing homes and businesses in the United States, and (b) zero-carbon standards for all new building construction.
In addition to doing away with nuclear reactors and fossil fuels, the Green New Deal seeks to raise the living standards of “low-income communities, communities of color, indigenous communities, [and] the front-line communities most affected by climate change, pollution, and other environmental harm.” Toward that end, it aims to guarantee that members of those demographics will be preferentially trained and hired to fill federal “green jobs” that will pay them at least $15-per-hour to implement the aforementioned upgrades, retrofits, and construction projects, thereby helping them to enjoy a “just transition” from their previous occupations to the new “green economy.” The premise underlying these training/hiring policies is that some form of economic reparations or wealth transfer program should be put in place to counteract the alleged affects of America’s historical discrimination against nonwhites and the poor. Orchestrating public policy around skin color is unconstitutional and – since the passage of the Civil Rights Act 58 years ago – illegal.
Heartland Institute president Tim Huelskamp summarizes the Green New Deal agendas as “the most radical socialist proposal in modern congressional history…. “[T]heir real desire is to accomplish the Left’s longtime goal of moving the United States toward full adoption of socialism. This isn’t just a theory. Significant provisions of the Green New Deal reveal its true purpose of imposing socialism on an unprecedented scale. The plan would create a ‘basic income program’ and federal jobs guarantee providing a ‘living wage’ to everybody who says they want one. It would impose a federal-government-run, single-payer health care system with bureaucrats and liberal politicians in Washington, D.C. in charge of every American’s health care. It would encourage the Federal Reserve to unleash inflation and create a system of government-owned banks to ‘create’ tens of trillions of dollars needed to fund these immense programs. None of these proposals has anything at all to do with climate change.”
In a July 2019 interview with The Washington Post, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief-of-staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, acknowledged that the Green New Deal had not been devised to protect the environment, but rather, to inject discredited socialist “solutions” into the American economy. “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal,” he said with great candor, “is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all. Do you guys [reporters] think of it as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a ‘how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy’ thing.” We don’t say this, but rather conceal it, because if we did we would have to explain why the epic failures of socialist regimes in our lifetimes should not be a red flag against repeating them.
The Shadow Party behind this campaign to replace America’s incomparably productive free market economy with a socialist travesty has been made possible by the failure of the Internal Revenue Service to enforce its own guidelines, which allow taxpayer subsidies only to non-partisan, non-political, charitable organizations. Beginning with its vast subsidies to universities that have been purged of conservatives and transformed into indoctrination and recruitment centers for the radical left and the Democrat Party, the I.R.S. has enabled the formation of the socialist juggernaut behind the Green New Deal and its war on fossil fuels. In its newest version, it is a war, by the way, which stops at the water’s edge, since Russian pipelines, and increased oil production by the totalitarian regimes in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, are apparently okay with the Biden administration.
The foundations of this Shadow Party of tax-exempt institutions were laid in the 1970s, when the political left launched a campaign inspired by the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci to build a revolution based on seizing control of the “means of cultural production” – universities, schools, philanthropic foundations and the like. A key component of 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities dedicated to promoting the Green New Deal and its leftwing agendas are the vast majority of colleges and universities across the United States. As the American Association of Universities explains, nearly all public and private institutions of higher learning “are tax-exempt entities as defined by I.R.C. Section 501(c)(3) because of their educational purposes — purposes that the federal government has long recognized as fundamental to fostering the productive and civic capacity of its citizens — and/or the fact that they are state governmental entities.”
So much for the boilerplate, not a word of which is true any longer. The movement to purge universities of conservative faculty and influences has been so successful over the last 50 years that universities have, and as far as social theory and policy are concerned have ceased to be educational institutions in any reasonable sense of the word. The total dominance of leftist narratives and values in virtually every academic discipline is as self-evident as it is disgraceful and dangerous. How this took place is the subject of a book by one of the authors of this article – The Professors (2014) by David Horowitz. A 2020 study of more than 12,300 professors by the National Association of Scholars found that professors nationwide donate money to Democratic political figures rather than Republicans by a ratio of 95 to 1. Even Moscow University probably has more diversity than that. In a 2018 study of nearly 8,700 tenure-track, Ph.D.-holding professors from 49 of America’s top 66 liberal arts colleges as ranked by U.S. News, the professors were 12.7 times more likely to self-identify as Democrats than as Republicans. In the field of environmental science specifically, the ratio of Democrats-to-Republicans was greater than 25 to 1. There is no way to describe this intellectual monolith than as a partisan political training and research center.
In addition to its taxpayer subsidies to left-wing university institutions, the I.R.S. has granted tax-exempt status to a vast number of 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and charitable foundations that seek to permanently institutionalize the Green New Deal and its totalitarian agendas. With $12 billion in assets, the Ford Foundation typifies the problem posed by the tax-exempt network of the left, which the I.R.S. has fostered and allowed to flourish.
Most significantly and ominously, the existence of this taxpayer-subsidized juggernaut disenfranchises ordinary voters. Ford has more assets than either political party, and more discretionary funding opportunities than the federal government. It has a large (and therefore rubber stamp) board which is self-appointed and is accountable to no one. And it exists in perpetuity. If one set out to undermine the democratic system, one could find no better vehicle than an institution like Ford, or for that matter the so-called philanthropies of George Soros, whose agendas have included creating a national crime wave, and rigging the electoral system in the service of creating a one-party state. These abuses cry out for reforms to protect the sovereignty of America’s citizenry which all these “charities” have put under threat. One could begin by sunsetting them within a five- or ten-year window.
Major funding institutions like Ford and Soros’s Open Society Foundations often operate through secondary advocacy organizations that are also tax-exempt. According to a comprehensive survey conducted by one of the current authors in 2012, and published as The New Leviathan: How the Left-Wing Money-Machine Shapes American Politics and Threatens America’s Future there were, at that time, at least 553 such organizations nationwide. Their combined net assets were approximately $9.5 billion – a figure that exceeded the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By contrast, there were just 32 identifiable environmental activist groups that were nonradical and pro-free market. Their combined net assets were a mere $38.2 million – a figure amounting to four-tenths of 1 percent of the assets owned by their environmental-left counterparts. Moreover, the environmental-left organizations at that time were awarding, in aggregate, $555 million in grants to their pet causes each year, while their 32 conservative counterparts were able to make grants totaling just $1.2 million — a ratio of nearly 462 to 1.
As if this imbalance were not bad enough, the coffers of the 553 environmental-left organizations — after they had doled out their $555 million in yearly grants — were essentially replenished, dollar for dollar, by the federal government, which annually provided some $569 million in grant money to approximately 247 of those groups. By contrast, the government gave a total of just $728,190 in federal funds to 7 (of the 32) conservative groups supporting free-market solutions to environmental problems. The dollar-to-dollar ratio of left-to-right funding by the government was an astounding 781 to 1. How can a democracy survive such an imbalance in government investments in new policies and ideas? It can’t.
A particularly noteworthy coalition of Green New Deal advocates today is an alliance of 15 leftwing activist groups that collectively call themselves the Green New Deal Network. This Network is a fiscally sponsored project of the Tides Foundation, a $405 million funder of left-wing causes. Among the members of the Network are several tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofits such as the following:
- The Sunrise Movement, the foremost organization behind the Green New Deal, calls for “an economy-wide effort” to pursue the “bold vision” that is necessary for “making core tenets of the Green New Deal a reality.”
- The Climate Justice Alliance — a network of 82 organizations and supporting networks which in 2021 received some $5.47 million in tax-exempt donations from foundations, corporations, and individual donors for the purpose of fighting climate change — boasts that its member groups, in their quest to lead “a much needed aggressive national pivot away from climate denialism to climate action,” have already “made local versions of the Green New Deal a reality from New York City to Oregon.”
- The U.S. Climate Action Network, whose revenues in 2017 exceeded $5 million, asserts that “the massive government investments that are needed” to bring forth “a Green New Deal for all people — Black, Indigenous, Brown, and white — ha[ve] never been more urgent.”
- The Center for Popular Democracy, whose 2019 revenues were in excess of $28.9 million, states that the Green New Deal encompasses “the bold action that we need to build a resilient future for our planet.”
- The Brooklyn-based Right to The City Alliance (RTCA) is a tenants’-rights coalition which claims that the GND holds the key to developing “a regenerative economy based on cooperation, deep democracy, feminism, and equity.” Among RTCA’s more noteworthy organizational members are fellow 501(c)(3)s like the anarchist Ruckus Society, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance.
Of course, there is also a massive array of highly influential 501(c)(3) nonprofit activist groups that support the Green New Deal but are not part of the Green New Deal Network. A small sampling of these organizations includes the following:
- 350.org, which reported a combined $30 million in revenues in 2016-2017, declares: “It’s time for a Green New Deal” to provide “a just, rapid transition to 100% renewable energy in the timeline we need to avert the worst impacts of climate change.”
- The Natural Resources Defense Council, which in 2019 held net assets of almost $387 million and awarded nearly $12 million in grants, declares that it “strongly supports the Green New Deal goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas pollution, with social and economic justice at the core of the solution.”
- The Environmental Defense Fund, which in 2018 held net assets of more than $208 million and awarded nearly $22 million in grants, says: “We look forward to working with the sponsors of the Green New Deal – and all those across the political spectrum working towards climate solutions – to transform our economy and achieve a healthier, more equitable and prosperous future.”
- The Wilderness Society, which in 2019 held net assets of $67 million and awarded nearly $34 million in grants, proudly “applauds Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) for leading the Green New Deal resolution,” which “lays out a framework for how to safeguard nature and humanity from the worst effects of climate change while providing sustainable economic opportunities, clean air and water and a just future for all.”
- The Rainforest Action Network, which in 2019 held net assets of $8.5 million and awarded more than $712,000 in grants, likewise backs the Green New Deal with fervent passion. As Rainforest Action Network executive director Lindsey Allen has written: “The Green New Deal brings much-needed urgency to the national conversation around the climate crisis, which is without a doubt the biggest threat to life on this planet.” Allen’s only lament, in fact, is that the GND is not radical enough for his taste: “While I applaud the direction proposed in the Green New Deal resolution, it simply does not go far enough. The hard truth is that we must keep more fossil fuels in the ground.”
Other major supporters of the Green New Deal include such tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit activist organizations as the National Audubon Society, which in 2020 held net assets of $585 million and awarded more than $5.4 million in grants and similar disbursements; the World Wildlife Fund. which in 2019 held net assets of $386 million and awarded grants exceeding $70 million; and the Trust for Public Land, which in 2019 held net assets of $133 million and awarded over $58 million in grants.
These and hundreds of other likeminded activist organizations are united in their mission to advance the economic and cultural transformation that the Green New Deal, if it were signed into law, would herald.
The efforts of the aforementioned pro-Green New Deal activist groups are augmented by a second enormous class of 501(c)(3) nonprofits that likewise have been granted tax-exempt status by the I.R.S.: the hundreds of charitable foundations that together award countless thousands of grants, worth many billions of dollars in the aggregate, to environmental activist organizations and causes each and every year. Among the more notable of these foundations are:
- George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, which in 2019 held $10.3 billion in net assets and awarded $431 million in grants and contributions;
- The Pew Charitable Trusts, which in 2019 held $887 million in net assets and awarded over $142 million in grants and contributions;
- The Ford Foundation, which in 2018 held nearly $12.2 billion in net assets and awarded more than $534 million in grants and contributions;
- The David and Lucille Packard Foundation, which in 2019 held over $10.3 billion in net assets and awarded $431 million in grants and contributions;
- The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which in 2020 held $12.7 billion in net assets and awarded over $471 million in grants and contributions;
- The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which in 2019 held more than $1.2 billion in net assets and awarded $37.7 million in grants and contributions;
- The Nathan Cummings Foundation, which in 2019 held $430.8 million in net assets and awarded $20.3 million in grants and contributions;
- The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which in 2019 held more than $323 million in net assets and awarded over$9.5 million in grants and contributions;
- The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which in 2018 held $5.9 billion in net assets and awarded nearly $308 million in grants and contributions; and
- The Tides Foundation, (the Sunrise Movement’s aforementioned fiscal sponsor), which in 2019 held over $405 million in net assets and awarded $457 million in grants and contributions.
The agendas of the activist organizations, charitable foundations, and educational institutions discussed above reflect their political rather than charitable agendas, make them agents of the Democrat Party, and should disqualify them from receiving billions in taxpayer subsidies. But thanks to the partisan – and even rogue – nature of the current I.R.S., they don’t.
 David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2012), pp. 156, 209-246.