The critics of the Sunrise movement really don’t understand climate activism

Sunrise is, once again, already planning voter mobilization efforts aimed at defeating Trump. Choosing to support Biden – especially now – would not benefit Sunrise and would bring relatively few benefits to the candidate himself. After all, the very early expressions of support for the campaign by “the country’s major climate groups” – which they trumpeted in response to Axios’ questions – have not done much to boost support among progressives.

What’s strange about some liberal pundits’ anger toward Sunrise in particular is that it appears to be rooted in two contradictory arguments: that Sunrise is an astroturfed, perpetually irrelevant shell of an organization that also has outsized power to hand the presidency to Trump to transfer if it does not support Biden as soon as possible. These two things cannot be true at the same time. However, it is easier to scream at the left than to seriously grapple with the fact that Biden continues to provide significant material support for an unpopular and demonstrably genocidal war and is struggling in the polls for a host of reasons; In the terrible event that he loses in November, it will certainly not be because the left was insufficiently enthusiastic about him.

Also strange is the astonishment of various commentators that a climate group and its members would harbor concerns about the war in Gaza or about anything other than a strong climate policy. “If your goal is action on climate, Biden is the only option,” Tré Easton, legislative director for Senator John Fetterman, wrote on X. “To claim otherwise is delusional.” But Biden’s foreign policy is hardly unrelated to the climate crisis. Like its increasingly draconian border policies, this has a major impact on how the United States will continue to shape a warming world. The U.S. military itself is a major contributor to the climate crisis, and the administration’s continued support for Israel’s brutal war threatens to undermine the kind of international cooperation needed to rapidly reduce global emissions.