Billed as a plan of action for the 99% by “green economy pioneer” Van Jones, Rebuild the Dream is also a harsh critique of the 1%, along with the Tea Party — both of which the former Obama administration “czar” claims are “killing” the American Dream.
What perhaps stands out most about Jones’ roadmap for progressive success, is his liberal use of clichés and arguably false narratives concerning conservatives. Throughout the book the theme of “greedy 1-percenters” feeding off the vulnerable 99% repeats itself, one dares say, ad nauseum.
While he purports no longer to be the “anti-capitalist firebrand” of his youth and cedes that there are benefits to the free market, Jones still spends an inordinate amount of time in these pages reinforcing negative stereotypes about the GOP and what he calls the “Libertarian Populist revolt,” labeling them disrespectful racists and “red-faced” right-wing “extremists” peddling nothing but vitriol. He claims that, like the “dragon,” the Tea Party should have been killed in its infancy. Nonetheless, Jones admires the group inasmuch as he views it as a successful movement and one that Occupy Wall Street should more closely emulate in terms of organization, skill, and media savvy.
Meanwhile, he lauds the Occupy movement for what he considers its cleverness and for personifying “non-violent” action (despite the movement’s abhorrent track record, boasting rape, assault and murder), even going so far as to say the 99% are, essentially, the new “Civil Rights Movement.”
(Check out Stu and Pat’s recent critique of Van Jones’ rhetoric on GBTV…)
In terms of objectivity, Jones does offer constructive criticism of President Obama and his administration. Yet he backtracks when suggesting that Obama’s failures are merely a result of the president being “too bipartisan” and unable to grasp the duplicity needed to truly succeed at the “inside game.” Jones also affirms his “love” for the president, calling Obama “beautiful inside and out.”
Points of Contention
The book is divided into quadrants: The “head space” or think tanks; the “heart space” or writers and artists; the “inside space” or lawmakers; the “outside space” or activists, like Occupy Wall Street. From there Jones urges members of all four quadrants to work together to realize the proposals mapped out in his “Contract for the American Dream.” This should not be difficult, as Jones asserts that progressives, unlike conservatives, pride themselves on being “fully rational.”
Some of his “dreams” are not shocking: Ramping up green energy investment while penalizing the “polluters” of America is perhaps the veteran activist’s raison d’être.
Since “catastrophic climate change,” according to Jones, is the “biggest threat” to humankind, we need an alternative to the “suicidal, gray economy killing jobs and the planet.” In other words, Jones wants Congress to mandate additional investments in green energy jobs to create a new green world economy. Since the transition will “not be cheap,” companies that emit greenhouse gases should subsidize the transition. “No one in America should be allowed to pollute for free,” he writes.
Jones tops off that proposal with a pat on the back for cap-and-trade and carbon credits. What’s more he states that if the GOP or Blue Dog Democrats attempt to block such legislation, then utility companies must be mandated to provide green energy via advanced batteries, solar panels, smart grid technology, and so on.
He also proposes that lawmakers:
- Curb corporate power through overturning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission;
- “Revitalize” labor unions, as they’re the key to ensuring “maximum profitably”;
- Step up campaign finance reform;
- Invest further resources in public education;
- Ensure “Medicare for all”;
- “Outlaw” corporations that oppose minimum wage increases;
- Return to “fairer” tax rates by ending the Bush tax cuts indefinitely;
- Tax Wall Street speculation;
- Create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants;
- Ensure fair elections for “all” voters (presumably, those who do not possess identification cards).
But that’s not all. Jones calls for the formation and promotion of an alternative, “sharable economy” based on a book entitled, What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. If his steps for success are enacted, Jones posits, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would indeed be “proud.”
(More from the Blaze: After Will Cain asks Jones about communism, Jones admits he “experimented” with “world views.”)