Van Jones at Power Shift 2011: “While theyre stuck on stupid in DC, your generation is rising”

In a passionate keynote address, green jobs leader Van Jones exhorted the 10,000 youth climate activists at the Power Shift conference in Washington DC to “shift the power” and lead the clean power revolution.  Brad Johnson has the story.

Van Jones argued that both parties need to be held accountable for their failures, and that activists must explain that the climate movement isn’t just about “hippie power” but that it is a vision of liberty and justice for all.

He had harsh words for the national political establishment.

“You have to be wise enough to hold both parties to high standards,” he said:

While they’re stuck on stupid in DC, your generation is rising.

Van Jones also discussed President Barack Obama, who hired him as a green jobs adviser but then let him go after Jones’ politics and person came under a relentless barrage from Fox News’ Glenn Beck. Jones argued that President Obama is like the friend who has the potential to be an A-plus student, but is only getting C’s and D’s. Jones told the assembled youth from campuses around the nation they can be a “hero for making sure your friend gets an A-plus on his presidency.”

Van Jones described how we have a civilization “fueled by death” “” fossil fuels from plants and animals that died millions of years ago:

We pull out of the ground death. We burn death in our power plants. Why do we get shocked when we get death in our sky as global warming, death in our oceans as oil spills, death in our children’s lungs as asthma and cancer?

The strongest moments of his speech came when he discussed America’s basic principles, in the context of arguing with “your uncle Joe” who watches Fox News at the Thanksgiving table. “Don’t you believe in liberty?” Van asked. “Shouldn’t we have the right as Americans to be energy producers?” he asked. “Shouldn’t we have the right and liberty to be free from energy companies who dictate how much we pay, what air we breathe?” Coal and oil companies try to divide us with cultural stereotypes and political ideology, when a green economy is actually the truly American economy:

The stereotype is that solar power is just hippie power. But it’s also cowboy power, farmer power, rancher power, and Appalachian mountain power!

Van Jones addressed the Tea Party movement that sees him as a “terrorist” and “communist.” “I’m glad our sisters and brothers in the Tea Party are talking about liberty,” he said. However, he said, they’re missing something important. The Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t just talk about liberty being integral to our nation:

The Pledge of Allegiance says liberty and justice for all!

With his voiced raised to the diverse crowd, Van Jones said “justice for all” includes justice for minorities, justice for women, justice for gays, and justice for the poor.

“Shift the power!” Van Jones concluded to thunderous applause.

Photo by Josh Lopez. Follow @PowerShift11 on Twitter.

— Brad Johnson, in a WonkRoom cross-post.

24 Responses to Van Jones at Power Shift 2011: “While theyre stuck on stupid in DC, your generation is rising”

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Van Jones is a brilliant and inspirational man. I wish he was our president. The “fueled by death” notion was especially apt.

  2. Ziyu says:

    A very clever and inspirational speech. Congratualations Mr. Jones.

  3. Sailesh Rao says:

    “Van Jones said “justice for all” includes justice for minorities, justice for women, justice for gays, and justice for the poor.”

    As long as “justice for all” does not include justice for animals and justice for Nature, we, humans, will continue to be “stuck on stupid”.

  4. Peter M says:

    It seems we are all ‘stuck’- what will happen to change this?

  5. Ed Hummel says:

    I have these visions that this new generation of people just coming of age will be inspired through desperation when contemplating the “nowhere land” of their future to make the necessary big pushes as Jones is exhorting them to do. Hopefully they won’t be co-opted by the mesmerizing materialism that seduced the 60s generation and which turned hippies into yuppies. I have a feeling that such materialism will be increasingly harder to sustain in the next few years which means the enticements won’t be there to sell out the way my generation did; so maybe there is hope. Too bad it couldn’t have really happened 40 years ago when the impact might have really meant something.

  6. cornwall says:

    Since the subhuman trash that voted for Obama and Bush yap endlessly about “freedom”, then they have absolutely no right to complain about Communists and Socialists demanding and earning the same right to lobby for the laws THEY want and to gain and use power for THEIR ends as much as the Republicans and Democrats do.

  7. Larry Chambln says:

    I wish Obama had the guts to bring Jones back into his administration. Obama needs Jones’ advice for bold action on energy instead of just bold talk.

  8. 350 Now says:

    Van Jones’ Powershift 09 talk. Hope they post his talk from this weekend soon. In the meantime, if you want a sense of the power this speaker has, access his talk from a couple years ago:

    (Unsure why the last minute or so of this youtube video is mute)

    If you are awake, you will be moved

  9. Skeptic says:

    You can’t cure stoopid ….
    Even with ‘thunderous’ applause.

  10. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thunderous applause for Sailesh Rao #3, ME

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Jones is a great fellow, no doubt, and Obama jettisoning him because a verbally incontinent and intellectually challenged (now unemployed)Rightwing Murdoch bufocrat attacked him was despicable (pronounced as by Daffy Duck!). The Jones treatment, of character assassination, smear, vilification etc is currently on full display in Murdoch’s ‘The Fundament’ (aka The Australian) in this country, as ever in recent decades. They are running ferocious hate campaigns against Aboriginal leaders, attempting to destroy their careers, against the Greens (of course-they openly promised to ‘destroy’ them) and against any individual that threatens the Right’s total dominance of society. The transformation of the media into an instrument not just of crude propagandising and demagogy, but of character assassination and intimidation is one of the root causes of our current predicament. The driving from public life of decent, sane, rational voices, and the promotion of bigots, imbeciles, conscienceless liars and, above all else, hate-mongers, has been, as one could have predicted, an utter moral catastrophe.
    We have a quasi-Jones, here, although not such a fine orator, in Tim Flannery. He has been a notable public figure for years, once ‘Australian of the Year’ and a clear, informed, thoughtful and considerate voice on the ecological crisis. The Right detest him with a passion, worsened, I’d say, by his refusing to play the game by their rules and return their slanders, invective and snide character assassination with any animadversions of his own. He seems now to be getting the ‘oxygen starvation’ treatment, appearing less and less frequently in the MSM, and then most often as the butt of slurs or ignorant derision (eg the recent ‘one thousand years’ imbecility). The role of the Rightwing MSM in shaping society to suit the Right, ie making it more greedy, selfish, indifferent to the interests of others etc, is at the very core of our suicidal inability to address ecological collapse. As long as the Murdochs of this world and their myriad misfit myrmidons of misinformation hold sway in the media, we don’t stand a chance.

  12. catman306 says:

    Mr. Jones is treasure found on a desert of worthless sand.

  13. Sunshine says:

    catman306 – I agree with your sentiment. I’ve spent most of the afternoon seeking out talks by Van Jones online and am amazed at the breadth of his wisdom. I saw a quote today somewhere that Glenn Beck would have to pull out his chalkboards again (after PowerShift 2011), so I sought out the GB youtube where GB got his knickers in a twist discussing Van Jones’ 2009 PowerShift talk.

    One thing GB said I actually agree with – he said some of Jones’ remarks “will take your breath away.” Well, lots of them actually. Every few moments, I glimpsed genius in Jones. But not what the jaw dropping, mouth breathing GB and his ilk would reference. It’s easy to see how GB and the Grand Oil Party are scared shitless of him. Interview with The Nation’s Ari Melber at Netroots Nation 2010 Keynote at Netroots Nation 2010

    Are there other neat resources of his out there?

  14. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Very inspirational speech Van Jones with full of wisdom and foresight.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  15. Tom Gibbons says:

    You requested slogans on another post, and it looks like Jones has turned that into a multiple choice question. I was trying to think of one, but now I give up in shame.

    a) Fueled by death
    b) Stuck on stupid
    c) Shift the power
    d) Cowboy power, farmer power, etc
    e) Friends don’t let A+ friends drive away with a D.

    Something for many occasions.

  16. Richard Brenne says:

    cornwall (#6) writes, “Since the subhuman trash who voted for Obama and Bush yap endlessly. . .” Are you starting an Intolerance party? Are you trying to get absolutely no one to follow you (since most people who have voted in the last three elections voted for either Obama or Bush)? Are you aware that Hitler called Jews, Gypsies and Slavs “untermensch” that translates into your “subhuman”? Are you a big Hitler fan?

  17. Daniela says:

    I love the idea of helping your friend the President get an A. That’s a fine example of participatory democracy.

  18. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Cornwall thinks that Obama and Bush are in the same party, or he thinks that people who vote are subhuman trash. Perhaps he’s thinking to do away with voting and just rule by divine proclamation or thumb-wrestle for the position.

  19. dimebag says:

    Jones should be in Prison!

  20. Richard Brenne says:

    dimebag (#21) – Huh? Care to explain?

  21. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Richard Brenne u r feeding trolls. Obvious trolls.

  22. Richard Brenne says:

    i m?