He talks about “rebuilding America,” but his ideas will do nothing of the sort.
Last night, Van Jones launched what he’s calling the “American Dream Movement.” Jones, as you may remember, was President Obama’s Green Czar before he resigned amidst controversy. He was hired last year by Princeton University as a visiting lecturer in the Center for African American Studies.
In his almost two-hour, live-streamed event launch—which was heavily promoted by the liberal group MoveOn.org—Jones laid out the liberal vision for America. He called the simple truth that our country has a major debt and deficit problem “a dangerous lie” and led the crowd in chants of “America is not broke!”
In one particularly shocking part of his speech, Jones seemed to compare conservatives to terrorists, saying, “Paul Ryan’s budget would knock out more critical American infrastructure than our sworn enemies ever dreamed of knocking out.” This is specially dangerous territory for one such as Jones, who has found himself in trouble before for signing a petition suggesting that America was at fault on 9/11 or complicit in al-Qaeda’s attacks on our nation—the so-called truther movement.
Throughout his speech, he repeated many of the same tropes of the left that we’ve heard before: that America is not broke, that the wealthy don’t pay their fair share, that union membership is the foundation of the middle class, that wages have remained stagnant, etc.
Jones ended by questioning the patriotism of the Tea Party movement. With a nod to Vice President Joe Biden, he discussed the patriotism of paying higher taxes and took to calling his fellow progressives the “deeper patriots,” as if patriotism is determined by how much of other people’s money you can spend.
But perhaps the major conceit in Jones’s address was the notion that the economy is a zero-sum game where the success of one person hinders your ability to succeed. If you’re not doing well, it’s because someone else is getting ahead at your expense. “We’re not broke,” Jones said early on in his presentation, “We’ve been robbed.”
As Rachel Weiner over at The Washington Post notes, this isn’t the first attempt at a sort of anti–Tea Party, and not even the first attempt by Jones:
A coalition of liberal and civil-rights groups united under the “One Nation” banner last year and held a rally on the National Mall in October. After the election, the group—in which Van Jones was involved—fizzled.
We will see in the coming weeks whether this newest movement fares any better. But ultimately, it’s doomed to fail. There’s a reason the Tea Party movement wasn’t launched with a slick website or a webcast. The Tea Party was the result of a growing feeling in this country that things aren’t on the right track, that we weren’t being told the truth by our leaders.
The Tea Party is the small business owner struggling under the weight of more and more regulations, the senior citizen wondering how the government can possibly afford to keep its promises, the parents concerned that their child will be worse off than they. In short, the Tea Party is a selfless movement driven by the desire to save our country before it’s too late.
This new effort by Van Jones is something else entirely. It’s supported by those who, like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, know they have a vested interest in keeping government big and are trying to convince the rest of us that we do, too. This “American Dream Movement” is about fostering jealously and class warfare to justify expansive social programs and bigger government in order to, as President Obama explained, “fundamentally [transform] the United States of America.”
There are two important lessons from Jones’s presentation for conservatives.
First, conservatives need to keep educating the public, because we have real solutions to the nation’s most pressing issues. The left knows they have to do something because, as Charles Krauthammer explained earlier this year, “they’ve lost the American people” and are struggling with serious Tea Party envy. After all, liberals control the Senate. They control the White House. But they know they’re losing the public.
Secondly, while we explain the importance of reducing government and righting our fiscal house, we can’t forget to explain the other half of our message—how taking these steps not only keeps us from going off the cliff but can help stimulate growth and create jobs. In one of the videos played during the event, a woman says, “The American dream is worth fighting for.” Heritage agrees, which is why we launched an actual plan to preserve that dream and ensure that it exists for future generations. We call it “Saving the American Dream,” and you can learn about it here.