Opinion: Cynicism cedes to celebration

Photos courtesy of Mike Racioppo

I closed my previous column by hoping that, by the time you read it that former Vice President Joe Biden would be “President-Elect Joe Biden.” Well, outside of the coup-curious Republican/Trumpist party, Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have been declared the winner by all credible sources and Fox News. 

I’m inclined towards cynicism, but walking around my district on Nov. 7, the day the race was called, and seeing the organic celebrations take hold was something I’ll never forget. The joyous relief spreading at President Donald Trump’s defeat was the only good ”infectious” thing I can think of in 2020.

On some level, I think we all needed that joy just to be reminded that it’s still possible. 

Let’s not confuse that joyous relief for an end of perilous times. It is not an automatic improvement of any material conditions. It doesn’t put an end to the pandemic, or grant more time to deal with the climate crisis. However, it holds the prospect of a federal government that is not openly hostile towards New York City and State or towards science-based solutions. That is smoothing that can’t be understated.

The first goal has to be to get COVID-19 under control, and when a vaccine is available, make it widely and freely accessible.

The next goal has to be for our federal government, state, and city to “go green.” While it’s a great name hardening back to F.D.R., I don’t care if this effort is known as the “Green New Deal”.  What matters is that our common priority is addressing climate change while spurring the economy and attacking economic inequality.

This means green jobs that change how we move, how we build, and how we live. It also means that governments stop doing business with polluters and those that aren’t “green.” It’s not going to happen overnight, but scientists say we’ve only got 11 years to deal with this.

We’re trying on the city level (i.e., Green New Deal, Pension Divestments), but now we’ve got a chance, and let’s make sure we take it. Maybe we can finish the redevelopment of Penn Station in a greener way, and President Biden can roll into town via Amtrak more famous than he is right now.

Mike Racioppo is the District Manager of Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 and has been an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College.