Former White House environmental adviser, author and activist Van Jones has continued his fight against what many deem as the elite’s war on democracy. While speaking at the Take Back The American Dream Conference in DC on Monday, Jones asserted that the left could learn a thing or two from the Tea Party.
“We have been on a one-sided offensive in this country where the worst people in America with the worst ideas have dominated the discussion,” Jones exclaimed. “And I’m not mad at them. I’m not mad at the Tea Party. I’m not mad at them for being so loud. I’m mad at us for being so quiet.”
During his optimistic speech Jones explained: “The Tea Party engaged 50,000 people to create their [Contract from America] agenda — everyone was shocked … We didn’t have 50,000. With no Fox News, with no Koch Brothers — just with the people in this room, Netroots organizing, grassroots organizing — we didn’t have 50,000. We had 131,203 — almost triple the Tea Party when we started! We didn’t accept the lie that progressives don’t know how to work together.”
A precise example of grassroots organization in motion is the bold and relentless, Occupy Wall Street movement. Reportedly, Jones interrupted his PowerPoint presentation to give an update from the NYC homegrown movement. Referring to the recent reports of police misconduct, Van Jones made an announcement that prompted a standing ovation:
“Marines are going to protect them and stand with them in their dress blues. This is a movement moment! Something’s happening in America! Don’t you give up on this country! Don’t you give up on this movement! This is your movement!”
Reflecting on the power of the leaderless Occupy Wall Street Movement, the progressive activist claims such a large, complex coalition should shy away from relying on one leader to get the job done.
“We have to remember, [Lyndon Johnson] did not lead the civil rights movement,” Jones said. “He signed a bunch of laws we liked, but he did not get out there and lead that movement. That was people like us right here in this room.”
Unity was at the heart of Jones’ message to the enthusiastic audience – and beyond. The American Dream Movement, which Jones aided in conceiving, was developed to band together the disenfranchised majority of Americans who’ve suffered as a result of weak policies of a faltering democracy. Last summer he called on a wide array of concerned citizens to help author the Contract for the American Dream – a la Tea Party. The finalized contract requiring folks to conceptualize policies they felt would help (re)build the American Dream would go up for vote at nationwide house meetings.
Speaking at the progressive 3-day conference, Jones validates his call to action, citing some of the more blatant stats that indicate the nation’s current misplaced priorities: “It’s our turn now. We let the warmongers have a turn for eight years, and they ruined this country,” Jones said. “We’re still spending $3 billion a week overseas on these wars. What if we had $3 billion just for Detroit? No, just for Appalachia. Just one week’s worth, imagine what we could do.”