Saturday, November 26, 2011

Van Jones: It's Yes We Can not Yes He Can

As announced, Van Jones is back.

Who is Van Jones? unabashed and high-profile liberal on President Barack Obama’s White House staff, former “green energy” czar Van Jones was to Republicans what a red cape is to a snorting bull: an irresistible target.

So when he resigned in 2009 under withering fire from the right — triggered by a video of him disparaging the GOP, followed by revelations of a tenuous connection to Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists — few doubted Jones was finished in Washington. He acknowledged as much a year later, writing in The New York Times that politics has become “a combination of speed chess and Mortal Kombat: one wrong move can mean political death.”

Van Jones is now the face, voice and high-powered organizer of the progressive Occupy Wall Street movement that is advocating on the behalf of middle, working and struggling class Americans.

He is giving credit for bringing under one banner several disillusioned and disconnected progressive organizations.

Jones helped organize a September summit, “Take Back the American Dream,” drawing more than 200 progressive organizations, and worked with groups in Ohio to defeat a bill which would have tightly restricted unions’ collective-bargaining power. And the themes of jobs and economic equality pushed by “Rebuild the Dream” — as the umbrella organization is known — dovetail with the economic message of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

This is exactly the spirit, tone and energy the progressive movement needs.

I have long believed that after mobilizing, supporting and electing 2008 - Yes We Can - candidate Barack Obama, the left/progressives said job well done and job completed.

We gave the newly elected President Obama marching orders and we retreated back to our distraction of choice. Our chant seemed to be, Yes We Did and now it was time for Yes He Can. From time to time we peeked in to check out if Obama was doing his job - fighting the richly funded (think billionare Koch brothers and friends) right-wing army.

On the other hand, the right got more than just angry, they got fighting mad and organized and via FOX and friends their message had a bully pulpit. By summer of 2009, when the Health Care debate was at a feverish pitch among Tea Party folks, many on the left - offering little or no rallying support - became disappointed in President Obama. He became, in the eyes of many progressives the Compromiser- and- Chief.

But fortunately Van Jones was actively laying the groundwork to change the narrative...

In his words:

“I’m not mad at the tea party for being so loud,” he said. “I’m mad at the progressives for being so quiet the past couple of years and not having that fire and that intensity at the grass-roots level to give both parties something to respond to that’s not just cut, cut, cut.

“You hear people talking about a disappointment [in Obama] and this kind of thing. I’m still of the view it was never, ‘Yes, he can.’ It’s supposed to be, ‘Yes, we can.’ And the ‘we’ was not evident in a couple of those years.

And Van Jones adds:

Real, systemic change requires “both a willing leader at the White House level” but strong grass-roots organizations supporting him, Jones said. “If we had been [organizing and protesting] in 2009 and been disappointed with the White House, that’s one thing. But when we aren’t even doing those things — and the only people who are marching and rallying are the tea party — I don’t think you have a fair experiment” to determine which ideology should prevail. read more

Well said. Welcome back my friend!

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