Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Van Jones wanted to bring green jobs, but had to fight back against Glenn Beck for the Wings of Justice

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Originally published on on September 9, 2009

Van Jones

Van Jones is in the news for resigning his post as Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality. Jones was the victim of a smear attack by Mr. Lack-of-Credibility Glenn Beck, solely because Beck was the target of an advertising boycott by, a group Jones founded in 2005, after Beck claimed that Obama is a racist.

It would be tempting to give Jones an award just for calling Republicans “a–holes” in a speech he gave well before joining the administration. Or even note the courage of signing a petition on whether Bush administration officials “may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war.” After all, is that any more out of the mainstream than having elected officials wonder if the president wasn’t born in the United States?

But when you peel away the layers of a story where Glenn Beck comes across as mean and petty, there is Van Jones, the person. The one who was working hard to make a difference in the economy, not just in bringing jobs, but adding “green jobs” to our workforce.

The experts tell us we are headed for yet another “jobless recovery.” Green jobs were supposed to give Americans of all different skill levels a chance at jobs that not only would help improve the quality of life, but also jobs that are steady and couldn’t be exported to India or China.

And by all accounts, Jones was the best person to fit this specific need that the Obama Administration likely created this position with Jones in mind.

After all, Jones is the founding president of Green for All and author of the book The Green Collar Economy.

It’s bad enough that the official unemployment is near 10%, and the more realistic number is closer to 20%. Watching an attack against someone who was going to improve that situation is disparaging.

Given how bad the situation is, we need the best and brightest inside government. Van Jones was going to be one of those people.

Princeton University politics and African-American studies professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell passionately speaks up on why Jones needed to remain on the inside of government.

“The EJ (environmental justice) movement was just beginning to gain a foothold in national politics, just beginning to develop a more cohesive and identifiable national platform, and Jones’ position within the White House was important to those efforts… Jones was an important ambassador of EJ to the White House. Not only did his position bring a particular kind of beltway legitimacy to EJ claims, but his presence might have helped close the “green gap” between black American concerns with pollution, land use, and health issues and the broader green movement concerns with global climate change. Linking those initiatives is critical to truly fair and comprehensive policies of sustainability.”

Praise of Jones comes not just from Democrats. Former eBay CEO and current Republican California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has proclaimed herself “a huge fan of Van Jones.”

Arianna Huffington thinks Jones is better off not tied into a government position.

Now, thanks to Glenn Beck, we’ve got that voice back. No longer tied to his desk with a sock in his mouth, Van is now freed to do what he does best: inspire and energize groups around the country. Student groups and labor groups and small business groups and middle class Americans everywhere who are losing jobs and losing homes and losing hope. He’s free to push with all his might and insight for the vision tens of millions of Americans tirelessly worked for during the presidential campaign — the vision they voted for in November — but which is now in danger of being drowned in the fetid political swamps of Washington.

But this effort on the part of the right-wing frenzy won’t stop at Van Jones, or the next person, or the one after that. And the reasons for trying to get people to quit won’t get any more significant.

As much as people can do outside the system, there was something to be said for getting things done within government. After eight years of the previous occupant, there is something to be said for displaying competent government in action.

“I think he was brought down. It’s too bad,” former Vermont governor Howard Dean said. “I think it’s a loss for the country.”

We hope that Jones will find a way to help outside the system. We need people such as Jones to help build our economy into something new and exciting. And we need someone with his expertise and experience to make this country a better place to work and live. And so, Van Jones is this week’s Wings of Justice award winner.


Written by democracysoup

September 9, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in media criticism, MSM

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