After Van Jones, former White House special adviser for green jobs, resigned from the position in 2009 amid controversy andmisconceptions over his political activities, the activist and author busied himself with other work. He led the Green Opportunity Initiative for the Center for American Progress and held a teaching fellowship at Princeton University. Then he took a year off.
“I just went around the country talking to people and listening,” Jones told The Root. He repeatedly encountered the same kinds of stories: Veterans with no employment opportunities upon returning from the battlefield. Young college graduates who can’t find jobs. The long-term unemployed who fear that, at age 40 or 50, they may never work again. Homeowners saddled with underwater mortgages, struggling to keep their houses. Cops, firefighters, teachers and nurses slashed from city budgets.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., he kept hearing that taxing the wealthy kills jobs and that cutting social programs is the solution for trimming the deficit. According to Jones, the disparity boils down to one thing: “There are forces in America that are trying to kill the American dream, who are willing to throw the middle class under the bus so that rich folks and corporations don’t have to pay fair taxes,” he said, arguing that these groups have too much dominance over our economic system.
Fueled by this perspective, this month Jones launched the American Dream Movement, aimed at a middle class that he says is working harder than ever, yet is struggling to maintain its livelihood. With support from MoveOn.org and other groups, he hopes to build a coalition of the progressive faithful as well as demographics outside the base that will rival the Tea Party.
Jones talked to The Root about his vision for the movement, his sudden legal action against Fox News and why liberals have been so quiet for the past two years.
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