Van Jones Seeks A ‘Healing For Our Politics': ‘Let’s Be One Country’

Posted on  

"Van Jones Seeks A ‘Healing For Our Politics': ‘Let’s Be One Country’"

White House green jobs advisor Van Jones is under attack from Fox News as an “avowed radical revolutionary communist” and from ABC News as a “truther” with a “history of incendiary and provocative remarks.” In an attempt to assassinate the character of Van Jones, the right-wing media are distorting his past political activism and cherry-picking Jones’s critiques of the pollution and injustice that still haunt this nation. However, Jones’s true record is one of turning away from anger and finding hope, abandoning division and seeking consensus.

Speaking at the National Clean Energy Summit 2.0 in Las Vegas this August, Van Jones argued that “for all of the battleground politics that’s going on,” energy policy should be “the one place that should be a safe harbor for all of us.” Van Jones praised the “bipartisanship” of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who as a representative from Los Angeles succeeded in getting “the first president ever to sign into law a green jobs act, President George W. Bush.” He recognized that the summit participants came to find a “healing for our politics” in a “common ground agenda”:

Many of you have taken chances to start companies, you’ve written books, you’ve been grassroots champions for the change that we need. And I think you’re seeking not just a healing for our economy or a healing for our planet, but a healing for our politics. And I want to acknowledge that many of us are here because we are seeking something deeper. This is the common ground agenda. It should be the common ground agenda. We should be able to come together as a country on this one. Finally.

Watch it:

Jones then explained that “the values that underlie this clean energy conversation” are “the common ground values of America.” Underlying the call for clean energy is the value that “clean air is better than dirty air for the health of our children.” Underlying the call for energy efficiency is that value that treating our country’s resources “with wisdom and respect is more important than wasting them.” And “if we have the opportunity to fight both poverty and pollution by putting people to work in these new industries, we would be wise as a country to do that.”

To extended applause, Van Jones explained that the Obama administration has committed $5 billion to improving the energy efficiency of low-income households because the same investment “that cut unemployment and cut an energy bill and cuts greenhouse gases is also going to cut asthma, and take asthma inhalers out of little girls’ and boys’ pockets.”

Jones discussed in further detail how President Obama’s clean energy agenda tears down traditional ideological divides by “asking questions progressives like” but “giving answers that conservatives should like”:

We’re asking questions progressives like but we’re giving answers that conservatives should like. We’re asking questions about how to move the needle on poverty and pollution and how we create more economic opportunity especially for people in the lower part of our economy. But the answers are answers that conservatives should like. We’re not talking about expanding welfare, we’re talking about expanding work. We’re not talking about expanding entitlements, we’re talking about expanding enterprise and investments. We’re not talking about redistributing existing wealth, we’re talking about reinventing an existing sector, and creating new wealth by unleashing innovation and entrepeneurship. This should be common ground. We should be able to stand together and be one country on this.

Jones concluded by again making the call for us to “be one country” and connect “the people that most need work” to the “work that most needs to be done”:

There is so much work that needs to be done in this country to retrofit America, to cut these energy bills. And there are so many people who need work. This is our opportunity as a country — and it comes around very rarely — to take the people that most need work, and connect them to the work that most needs to be done, to fight pollution and poverty at the same time, and be one country. Let’s be one country.

During the applause at the conclusion of Jones’s speech, prominent Republican oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens — who in 2004 funded the Swift Boat attacks on Sen. John Kerry — turned to Jones and shook his hand.

Transcript:

First of all, it’s good to be here. I want to honor my friend and hero Vice President Gore. It was a brilliant summation, graceful, et cetera.

I also want to honor Senator Reid, who has been such a huge and steadfast champion on this. You haven’t gotten the credit, so I’ll put it on the table. Not only is Las Vegas going to be a leader in generating energy, but there’s also going to be a $5.7 million smart grid demonstration project so we can use that energy better and smarter here. Congratulations on that. It’s a big deal for the whole country. [APPLAUSE]

Senator Wirth and Senator Cantwell, I thank you also for your leadership and effectiveness on these very very important issues.

I also want to thank John Podesta. He sicced — this is a very tough set of problems — he sicced two of the best minds in the country on it, in Bracken Hendricks and in Benjamin Goldstein. This report, I think, is very challenging and visionary in pushing us to think even bigger and bolder. I thank you for that.

I also thank Secretary Chu for making energy efficiency cool again. We get a chance to quote you on that “fruit on the ground” thing four or five times a day. So thank you for saying it’s the “fruit on the ground.”

And also, I’m looking forward to hearing the comments of Secretary of may Labor Hilda Solis, the champion, which I think people sometimes forget, of the first ever federal legislation ever to codify the concept of green jobs, the Green Jobs Act. Not only she able to get it through Congress, she was able to get the first president ever to sign into law a green jobs act, President George W. Bush. So I give you credit for that, for being able to be a leader in bipartisanship and bringing us forward together. [APPLAUSE]

There’s genius around this table.

There’s also genius around this room. I want to acknowledge that there are so many people here who are listening who could easily come up here and talk, and teach us a great deal. I think that you are here, many of you — you wake up in the morning, this issue’s the first thing on your mind. Many of you have taken chances to start companies, you’ve written books, you’ve been grassroots champions for the change that we need.

And I think you’re seeking not just a healing for our economy or a healing for our planet, but a healing for our politics. And I want to acknowledge that many of us are here because we are seeking something deeper. This is the common ground agenda. It should be the common ground agenda. We should be able to come together as a country on this one. Finally. [APPLAUSE]

The reason for that is the values that underlie this clean energy conversation, which we don’t speak to directly enough, are the common ground values of America. Clean air is better than dirty air for the health of our children. That’s common ground. That’s why we need clean energy.

We have been blessed in this country with so many resources. Conserving them, saving them, treating them with wisdom and respect is more important than wasting them. That’s why energy efficiency is so important.

And if we have the opportunity to fight both poverty and pollution by putting people to work in these new industries, we would be wise as a country to do that. That is common ground. That is common ground.

And that is why this administration is so committed to energy efficiency. We think that this is the most fiscally conservative thing that we can do with the federal dollars.

Why do I say that?

I say that because the money that we invest in energy efficiency — these are humble, hard-working dollars. They work double time, triple time, quadruple time. If you take a worker, someone who right now needs work, someone who’s sitting on the bench but has skills or the desire to learn skills, And you give that person an opportunity to stand up and to be an energy efficiency specialist and walk across the street, you put a dollar in that person’s hand. That dollar just cut unemployment. But when she walks across the street and begins to blow in that clean, non-toxic insulation. When she begins to replace those windows and doors. When she begins to do the work of improving and upgrading our homes. That same dollar that cut unemployment is also going to cut somebody’s home energy bill.

And it gets better.

That same dollar’s also going to cut pollution. Somewhere there’s often a coal-powered plant that’s working overtime because our homes are so leaky and waste so much energy. But if we can cut that energy bill by 30 percent, we can cut that pollution by 30 percent. That cuts not just greenhouse gas emissions, that cuts asthma. That some dollar that cut unemployment and cut an energy bill and cuts greenhouse gases is also going to cut asthma, and take asthma inhalers out of little girls’ and boys’ pockets. That’s the kind of double, triple, quadruple benefit that we’re talking about. That’s common ground. [APPLAUSE]

And I think it’s important that we recognize that for all of the battleground politics that’s going on, this is the one place that should be a safe harbor for all of us. We should be able to stand together.

We’re asking questions progressives like but we’re giving answers that conservatives should like. We’re asking questions about how to move the needle on poverty and pollution and how we create more economic opportunity especially for people in the lower part of our economy. But the answers are answers that conservatives should like. We’re not talking about expanding welfare, we’re talking about expanding work. We’re not talking about expanding entitlements, we’re talking about expanding enterprise and investments. We’re not talking about redistributing existing wealth, we’re talking about reinventing an existing sector, and creating new wealth by unleashing innovation and entrepeneurship. This should be common ground. We should be able to stand together and be one country on this. And that’s why the administration has been so committed.

That’s why we have $5 billion on the table, up from 200 million last year in 2008. Five billion dollars on the table this year to cut energy bills for low-income people by unleashing a tidal wave of energy efficiency workers. That’s why GSA has literally billions of dollars to retrofit our government buildings. That is why HUD has billions of dollars in our recovery package to cut energy costs for public housing. That is why you see with our Recovery Through Retrofit program –which the Vice President asked us to start — 12, 13 different agencies and departments standing together for the first time coming up with new ways forward. I mean Treasury. I mean Commerce. I mean the Small Business Administration. Because we know, as Secretary Chu has said so many times, because this is the fruit on the ground.

There is so much work that needs to be done in this country to retrofit America, to cut these energy bills. And there are so many people who need work. This is our opportunity as a country — and it comes around very rarely — to take the people that most need work, and connect them to the work that most needs to be done, to fight pollution and poverty at the same time, and be one country. Let’s be one country. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE]

Update
Share

Jake Tapper responds with snark: “Interesting editorial decision not to mention that by his own admission he signed a 9/11 Truther petition.”

« »

Comments are closed.