Can the Green Agenda Progress Without Van Jones?

Green jobs czar and racial justice advocate Van Jones resigned from his position as environmental adviser to the White House over Labor Day weekend. Many believe that Jones’ departure is a significant setback in environmental policy, racial equity, and another reminder that pundits can destroy credibility with very little ammunition in today’s political climate. Fox News host Glenn Beck and several Republican Congressmen criticized Jones for “controversial” past activism and called for him to step down. Jones was particularly smeared for signing a petition that requested more information on the 9/11 attacks and a derogatory comment toward Republicans, both of which he apologized for publicly.

Jones’ commitment to a sustainable environment and a green economy was especially influential on progressive youth. Kristina Rizga of Wiretap explains that Jones’ vision really resonated with young people from marginalized communities and encouraged them to get involved. Additionally, Jones played a key role in ensuring that underprivileged Americans reaped the benefits of clean energy investments and green jobs training initiatives in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Jones—the first African-American to write a best-selling environmental book—helped inspire these hard-to-reach communities. It’s hard to think of another individual on the Hill who spent as much time talking and listening to disenfranchised youth,” Rizga writes.

But would Jones still have his job if the Obama administration had stood up for him? In a strong piece for The Nation, John Nichols argues that Obama succumbed to the media, and “in so doing, allowed Glenn Beck to define the administration.” Jones signified that Obama was dedicated to green jobs and protecting the environment. Without Jones, however, those objectives may never be realized.

“This won’t make the Obama presidency stronger; nor will it position the president to work more effectively with Congress on issues such as health care reform – let alone “green jobs” initiatives,” says Nichols.

Air America’s Beau Friedlander calls Jones’ resignation an example of “mutually assured distraction;” another attempt for partisans to take down their opponents’ point man over a non-issue. This infantile and baseless behavior shifts lawmakers attention away from important issues at hand, such as the climate change bill, economic recovery and health care reform. Friedlander characterizes Van Jones as someone who  is “100% committed to creating the conditions for an improvement in society. He is dedicated to progress, and solution-oriented activism. He is a team player. He knows how to follow the leader, and how to be the leader.”

While many see his departure as a deep loss, Don Hazen of AlterNet has “5 Reasons Why Van Jones and Progressives are Better Off with Jones Out of the White House.” First, Jones was an unsung hero for the environment and progressive activism. Now, he is a household name, and has increased his visibility and influence. Second, Hazen argues that Jones’ position limited his scope of influence. By stepping down, Jones was rescued from obscurity. Third, Jones can now help lead and shape the progressive movement. Fourth, Jones is now free to express his views and speak the truth, something he was criticized for while in the White House. And lastly, Jones can now provide real vision, explain his ideas and mobilize people to curb climate change. Ultimately, Jones’ fame will outshine any controversy or scandal. Hazen remains confident that this situation will only make Jones a stronger and more effective leader.

Finally, to commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks today, President Obama called for a national day of service on major legislative issues. Wiretap’s Jamilah King notes that environmental organizations like Green for All and Green the Block are sponsoring events that promote green jobs and climate justice.

The message is clear: Van Jones’ resignation will not intimidate us from working towards important environmental endeavors. We must use this “opportunity to reinvigorate the movement toward equitable and economically sustainable green jobs.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment and is free to reprint.

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets.

Center for American Progress
By Raquel Brown, Media Consortium


B. M.
Bette M8 years ago

I like & follow who I choose & not those who dictate who I should.

If you believe & follow Jones that is your right.

Free speech comment.......Plant trees for life.........

B. M.
Bette M8 years ago

Sable wrote:
@B.M. BUT is this about who is smarter than he is? Are you questioning his ethics? or his backround? Of course there is someone smarter sir..what does that have to do with HIM--personally, if you don't mind...

From what I've read of Jones past involvement in Marxist/communist beliefs & activities. Yes, I question much of where he might take this country in very subtle ways right along with Obama. I do question his ethics & true principles.

I want someone who does not have all these radical leanings. I want a true blue American who believes in helping/saving America. Jones has a bible in one hand & a Marxist phamplet in the other.

American does not need Jones who pretends to be an environmentalist but who has dabbled in socialist thinking & affairs.
My free speech comments....................

Plant trees for life....................

Sable L.
Sable L8 years ago

..lord! Don't say anything the REPUBLICANS/DEMOCRATS?ANYBODY don't like...I keep trying to figure out why religion, your ethnicity, creed, party, have to do with a measure of a MAN/WOMAN? Many won't agree with me, but hey! I speak for MYSELF and manymany fellow like minded people..I don't need to shun my 5th amendmendment..all that is required in free speech is basic respect..I don't NEED, nor WANT to agree too everything/everyone!

Sable L.
Sable L8 years ago

A man's measure of worth is NOT his words..BUT action. Hitler said a gang of stuf, but until he put that crap in motion--it meant NOTHING! People have political views and then they grow- he can't? MR. JONES HAS PROVEN he IS A MAN OF INTEGRITY, ACTION, AND A CHAMPION OF CIVIL RIGHTS...I wish him the best and look forward to hearing more of his UNcensored view(s)..

@B.M. BUT is this about who is smarter than he is? Are you questioning his ethics? or his backround? Of course there is someone smarter sir..what does that have to do with HIM--personally, if you don't mind...

@Bruce~ kindly tell me where you get your stats from? I've done my homework...perhaps you should run for the seem to have insight on HIM PERSONALLY. It's a im-mature thing to judge a man on a few words you read, dig further..and so what-? NOW he's an activist? HE WHO IS WITHOUT A SIN AND CAN RUN THE COUNTRY OUT OF THIS MESS, RUN FOR PRESIDENT! May I remind everyone...OBAMA inherited Regean/BUSH'S CRAP! Let's all sit around a round table and discuss how/they left the counrty in a MOSH PIT and we'll TALK about the mess OMAMA has too clean up! I didn't see any of this talk when Bush or Reagan were in the white house...they got two terms each...and F&* up the ECONOMY..started a couple war(s),LIED like a loon, and threw many innocent medical patients in JAIL!

Yeah, let's keep blaming EVERYBODY else for the cleanup our president has to do!

Paula D.
Paula A8 years ago

Van Jones will be fine, but we are all a bit worse off because of what happened in Washington. Van Jones is a smart, clear-thinking man who has been making common sense recommendations while much of America (like commentor Bruce V.) have put little thought into what they say & iinstead have been spreading falsities. Bruce, et al., get the facts before you spout off against good people.

Elizabeth J.
Elizabeth J.8 years ago

No matter what, the reality of Constitutional freedom gives us freedom. If we are intimidated to speak our minds, or support any cause, we are no longer Constitutional Americans, just facist freaks with blindfolds on.

What we as Americans need to ask is why if we have gone from huge computers to micro chips, we do not have home solar at affordable cost, or home wind, both which we can sell back for business use, or for energy companies to sell to those who use more than they can create.

Van Jones signifies that the fleas and worms are wagging the dog, and it is sick and unAmerican. I am a Republican, and it is not all Republicans. Our election processes, financial systems, education systems, health, vets, etc are out of control and need to be brought in line. It is not going to happen by people who can manage to either have no opinions, or friends, or manage to hide them. Duvall managed, and look what we got there, Wilson managed, and look what we got there. Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, and palsies managed and look what we got there.

Time to stand up and be free Americans, not pushed around by the Becks, and the media who tell us what they think, who cares what they think except a small, bitter, other blaming fringe. WE, the People allowed this to happen, WE, the People need to get together and salvage our country and Constitution, and Beck is not the way.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L8 years ago

Correcting our environments problems won't be fixed by anyone man or his leadership. It took many of us to create this mess and it will take all of us to correct it.

There have been many folks for many years working to create "green" jobs. Working on solar, wind, etc.Now it is the new buzz word.

I honestly don't know the truth about Mr. Jones so I won't comment on him. But the problems and the solutions are bigger than one man, one political party or one country.

We will do it now because we have no choice.

Bruce V.
Bruce V8 years ago

The Obama team did not verify his background. An Avowed communist, activist, arrested for protesting during the Rodney King Debacle and in March 2009 was found to be looking further than Green Jobs.

This man had to go. He was a black eye on Obama and America. As far as the Green Movement. Cap and trade will not pass. Too much money. Neither with Health Care reform in it's present state or with the Public option. We already are a socialist Country with Medicare, Medicaid and Social security. Just care for the ones who need it and qualify. Stop wasteful spending in Medicare and prevent Insurance companies fro denying coverage due to preexisting conditions or cancel someones policy when they get sick.

Obama is making too many changes in a short amount of time and it will shorten his Presidency.

Adam I.
Adam I8 years ago

We have to.
The nature of the challenges we face together with this planet is such, that we need to quickly stand up and keep going.

There is no other choice.

James D.
James D8 years ago

Noting Don Hazen's, of AlterNet, “5 Reasons Why Van Jones and Progressives are Better Off with Jones Out of the White House.”, the comment that comes immediately to my mind is: What an incredibly discouraging, sad, but ultimately true comment on Government, that someone such as this man is considered, even by an administration which otherwise purports to support his viewpoint, too controversial to remain in service to the People! What an astonishment that this adminsitration would even care what the Glenn Becks and right wing Republican congresspersons have to say about it! The very same people who constantly Lie about and distort Everything we thought we sent President Obama and his crew to Washington to accomplish for us! How about showing us, for a change, that you have a pair Mr. President!