"The real fight is not between conservatives and liberal, or even between Wall Street and Main Street. The real fight is between 'cheap patriots,' who are trying to destroy the American dream and 'deeper patriots,' who are trying to restore it. It's really a fight between two different versions of patriotism, two visions of what American greatness will require in the next century.
"You have these cheaper patriots who have taken their wrecking ball agenda," Jones explained, "painted it red, white and blue and used it to smash down all of the institutions that made America exceptional: unions, public schools, the sense of responsibility among Americans to invest in the country that made their success possible."On what needs to be rebuilt in order to rebuild the American Dream:
"I don't have a magic answer to the question," Jones said, "but I do try to promote a process that will get us closer to good answers. It's going to take a mix of approaches, some of them governmental, some having to do with individual behavior, some of them having to do with finding smarter ways for the labor movement to revive. But fundamentally, the deck is stacked against patriotic corporations that want to hire in America.
"So there has to be change in trade and tax policy. But also, we can't wait on Washington, DC to fix these things."On learning from the Tea Party:
"On the whole, what we call the Tea Party represents a set of preexisting assets - both ideas and individual organizations that long pre-dated the declaration of the new movement. Some of them go back to the Ross Perot days. Yet this set of libertarian ideas was not taken very seriously, even within the Republican Party.
"It's sheer genius to be able to take a very old set of ideas and an aging set of assets and realign them and re-brand them so that they must be taken seriously in the current context. That's something we can learn from the Tea Party: How to take existing infrastructure and ideas but find a way to re-present them to the American people.On leadership:
"One of our aspirations is to create a banner under which many leaders can shine and grow and learn, but where no one leader is the personification of the movement. People will always let you down. Principles endure. So having a network that is based on principles and values first, not based on politicians or even a political party, is critical.As I said, these are just some of the highlights. Van Jones gets into some more specifics on all of those points, and also talks quite a bit about how he personally approaches his work. As they say, read the rest!
Even though she built a powerful progressive circle in the upper reaches of Washington, DC society, you've probably never heard of Maria Leavey before. Nobody could blame you. She never held office. Nor was she a powerful lobbyist, campaign manager, columnist, or polling expert. She had a small apartment in Washington, and didn't even have a regular job or very much money. She pursued her political efforts largely on a landline telephone and an ancient computer in her tiny apartment.Despite all these things, Leavey managed to build a powerful network of progressives, holding a monthly movement-building breakfast that the likes of Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid attended. She was known to bake cookies for everyone from top Democrats to her mail carrier. When she died of heart disease in 2006, her obituary appeared in the Washington Post as an article of a length usually reserved for longserving congressmen.Since Leavey's death, the Campaign for America's Future has memorialized Leavey's work with an annual Maria Leavey Tribute Award for an unsung progressive organizer who has contributed significantly to the progressive movement while working tirelessly behind the behind the scenes without seeking the limelight. Past winners include Lanya Shapiro, a social entrepreneur in Durham, NC; Graciela Sanchez, director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio, TX; and Ari Lipman, an organizer for the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.If you know a selfless organizer who is quietly pushing the progressive movement forward, you should nominate them! Nominations are due by July 25th, and nominees should meet the following criteria:A Convener who builds connections among diverse members of the progressive movement, cultivating networks of old and new leaders and activists;A Persistent Advocate who overcomes obstacles and marches forward with an enduring commitment and passion for social justice;A Selfless Organizer who works behind the scenes without seeking the limelight or credit for his or her efforts, while lending credit to others; andAn Idea Generator who pushes forward creative new ideas, a strong analysis of important issues, or helps build specific new capacities and infrastructure for the progressive movement.