Van Jones, President Barack Obama’s former special adviser for “green jobs, enterprise and innovation,” yesterday launched what he calls “The American Dream Movement.” In a punchy, two-hour webcast that was heavily promoted by MoveOn.org, the former green czar signaled his support for all ideas progressive — and his appalling unwillingness to face some simple facts.
Jones’ American Dream at first sounds familiar: a decent job, a college education, a dignified retirement, a secure future. But he seems to forget the pivot on which the Dream has always turned: an honest work ethic that proceeds from no sense of entitlement but rather from a grounded optimism that ability applied to opportunity will yield results.
My friend and former colleague at The Heritage Foundation Brandon Stewart reports:
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.”
So, will such an attempt to stir up self-conscious activism work? Stewart doesn’t think so:
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.”
This isn’t Jones’ first attempt to counteract The Tea Party. He was also a part of an earlier short-lived effort — a coalition of liberal and civil rights groups under the “One Nation” banner that last October held a rally on the National Mall.
What has made The Tea Party so effective is precisely the inverse of what makes Jones’ efforts ring so hollow: The movement grew organically and had no real preconception of itself. The Tea Party built its character; it didn’t contrive it. In the upcoming elections, Tea Partiers should take care to retain that quality of thoughtful consideration of the situation at hand and an issue-by-issue, common sense approach to solutions. The truth — not ideology — will out.