fresh voices from the front lines of change







Van Jones put to rest the notion of a divided Left, as he kicked off the Take Back the American Dream conference today.

Noting the wide-ranging feelings about President Barack Obama among the thousands attending the conference, Jones said: “Some people love the president. Some don’t. But the point is, what are we going to do?”

To solve the jobs crisis, to rebuild our infrastructure, to restore tax fairness, to renew a vibrant middle class, we don’t need to agree about Barack Obama. Because, as Van Jones said, the slogan of 2008 wasn’t, “Yes HE Can.” It was “Yes WE Can.”

Jones counseled the crowd not to wait for a “messiah” or a “Superman,” because the American Dream movement is “your movement.”

And lest anyone had forgotten what the movement had already accomplished, despite the blows we had already suffered, Jones offered a recent history lesson.

The movement rallied millions to stop President George Bush from invading Iraq. He ignored us. “We could have quit then, but we didn’t,” reminded Jones.

Even after progressives fell short in ousting Bush in 2004, and Karl Rove pledged to establish a “permanent Republican majority,” folks did not quit. And just years later, Rove’s dream was shattered by the lost of the Congress.

“You get knocked down, but you get back up,” said Jones.

Today, we are getting back up. Jones reported that American Dream rallies outnumbered Tea Party rallies 10 to 1 in August. And now, proudly said Jones, “The White House is talking different because we are walking different.”

Jones gently chided those who have feel disaffected and disengaged, saying, “Call your grandmother. Get some perspective.” Our predecessors fought for economic fairness during the Great Depression. Our predecessors fought for civil rights in the face of fire hoses. There is no reason think we cannot stand together today, and take back the American Dream for all Americans.

Judging from the crowd, by the time Van Jones was done, any demoralizing disappointment that came into the room had vanished, replaced by a renewed hunger to show what we can do. By ourselves. Working together.

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