Van Jones’ piece at The Nation confirms in my mind that the man is little more than a continual platitude, offering soft and spongy rhetoric in the place of deeper analysis about the problems affecting our society. Jones calls for an end to the 99% versus 1% rhetoric in favor of all Americans coming together to improve the nation.
What planet is Jones on?
It was conservatives who drummed him out of the Obama Administration. Conservatives are not going to come together with liberals on anything. The 1% is declaring war on the 99%. Moreover, the 99% rhetoric has been the most effective left-leaning rhetorical theme in probably 2 decades, maybe more.
The “99 percent versus the 1 percent” argument falls short in a lot of ways. The vast majority of Americans do not oppose their fellow Americans, simply because they are rich. To the contrary: more than perhaps any other people on this Earth, Americans admire success. What we detest is greed. We like economic winners; we hate economic cheaters. We cheer economic innovation; we despise financial manipulation. Like most people, I don’t hate rich people who buy yachts. (The workers who build those yachts are happy.) We don’t mind when wealthy Americans buy expensive toys; we do mind when they try to buy governors and Congresspeople.
There is a reason that both the right and left love Steve Jobs (for all his flaws) and hate Bernie Madoff. There is a reason that the original Occupiers claimed the space at Wall Street, not Silicon Valley. Even they love successful entrepreneurs who create sleek and useful products.
Within limits, Americans like the risks and rewards that come with living in a market economy; we don’t mind having winners and losers, but we go ballistic when anyone tries to rig the game. If some of today’s super-wealthy outrage us—it is not because of their material success. It is because of their moral failings.
Furthermore, we expect everyone in America—the 100 percent—to do their best, to be good neighbors and to contribute to the success of our country. In return for enjoying the support of the greatest nation on Earth, we expect those who do well in America to do well by America. We expect them to pay fair taxes, create good jobs here at home, to give something back to this country. In a crisis (like the present one), we expect everyone to pitch in and do her fair share. Those who live up to these duties and expectations have always held a place of honor in our society. Americans always stand with those wealthy patriots who stand with us.
Say that again?
The left loves Steve Jobs? Does Jones only hang out with white Apple users who are willing to forgive any amount of Chinese workers in near-slavery in order to have cool, high-priced products?
Actually, the answer to that question is probably yes.
Also, are the workers who build yachts happy? I don’t know. But I do know a lot of workers aren’t happy. Doesn’t this depend entirely on the working conditions of the factory?
The rest of the essay consists of equally meaningless rhetoric about an America that does not exist. Except in the mind of Van Jones and other Beltway leftists who go to a lot of high-end Washington parties but seem rather disconnected from the reality of modern American life.
I know Jones has tons of cred because he was purged from the Obama Administration, but let’s not let his celebrity get in the way that his essay is really bad.