Is Van Jones Trying to Co-opt #Occupy?

In a recent CNN interview, Van Jones said: ““You’re going to see an evolution now as you go from protests, keep the protests, but now expand into politics,” Jones said. “And if you thought there was an earthquake in 2010 when the Tea Party moved into politics, wait until this 99 percent movement moves over into politics. You haven’t seen anything yet.”

“Phase two, you move from anger to answers. You move from pointing out the problem to pointing out the solutions,” Jones said. “What you’re going to see now is you have the Occupy movement at the center, that’s the beating heart.”

Wait a second. Slow down.

I thought that the occupy movement came about because our system is broken way beyond any remedy that can come at the ballot box. I asked one Occupier, who had just marched 240 miles from NYC to Washington, DC if she thought that the Occupy Movement should be an electoral force (i.e.- reform) or if it is a revolutionary force. Watch this video and read Kevin Zeese’s article  below.

-Dennis Trainor, Jr.

Van Jones Can’t Occupy Us
By Kevin Zeese
Occupy Washington, DC

The corporate media is anointing a false leader of the Occupy Movement in Van Jones of Rebuild the Dream.

The former Obama administration official, who received a golden parachute at Princeton and the Democratic think tank Center for American Progress when he left the administration, is doing what Democrats always do—see the energy of an independent movement, race to the front, then lead it down a dead end and essentially destroy it. Jones is doing the dirty work of a Democratic operative and while he and other Dem front groups pretend to support Occupiers, their real mission is to co-opt it.

Glenn Greenwald says in a recent blog, “White House-aligned groups such as the Center for American Progress have made explicity clear that they are going to try to convert OWS into a vote-producing arm for the Obama 2012 campaign.”

Before he ran to the front of the Occupy Movement, Jones’ Rebuild the Dream had been saying that its first task was to elect Democrats. Now he is claiming there will be 2000 “99% candidates” in 2012. These Democrats will be re-branded as part of the 99% movement. Democrats will now be re-labeled and marketed as part of the 99% movement. Republican operatives did the same thing to the Tea Party.  Tea Party candidates, who often used to be corporate “Club for Growth” candidates, ran in the Republican Party.  See, e.g. Senator Pat Toomey – before and after.

Jones is urging the Occupy Movement to “mature” and move on to an electoral phase. This would only make us a sterile part of the very problem we oppose. The electoral system is a corrupt mirage where only corporate-approved candidates are allowed to be considered seriously. At Occupy Washington, DC, we recognize that putting our time, energy and resources into elections will not produce the change we want to see. What we need to do right now is build a dynamic movement supported by independent media that stands in stark contrast to both corporate-bought-and-paid-for parties.

Democratic operatives want to steal the energy of the Occupy Movement because they do not have any of their own.  These Dem front groups operate within the confines of the two corrupt parties and their agenda is limited by what big business interests say is politically realistic. Rebuild the Dream is more of the same that has been seen over and over from groups like MoveOn and Campaign for America’s Future – elect Democrats is their mantra.  It is their only program.  And, it is bankrupt.

Democrats need to derail and co-opt the Occupy Movement because it calls attention to what’s really happening. The American people need a real jobs bill, not one that is merely a political tactic for an election year. We also need a truly progressive tax system—one that taxes wealth more and workers less. The poorest Americans pay taxes on necessities like food and clothing, so why is it that neither party urges a tax on the purchase of stocks, bonds and derivatives—a tax that could raise $800 billion over a decade? And finally, we need an end to the wars and militarism maintained and expanded by both parties, bringing huge profits to the arms industry and immense suffering to millions.

The Occupy Movement is not part of either corporate-dominated party and Van Jones is not our leader. It is corporate rule we oppose. The Obama administration and the Democrats as well as the Republicans maintain the rule of Wall Street. Occupiers have organized an independent movement that challenges the rule of the 1% and their Republican and Democratic lackeys. Bought and paid for with millions of dollars from Wall Street, the health insurance industry and big energy interests, Obama and the Democrats are part of the problem, not the solution.

Kevin Zeese is an organizer of Occupy Washington, DC and co-director of Its Our Economy and co-chair of Come Home America.

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  1. Thank you posting this Dennis. It’s a consistent argument among Occupiers in south FL, because MoveOn has many V Jones ‘ambassadors’ among the Occupy groups soliciting to sign a contract with Build a Dream. WTF? I brought attention to this early on at one of meeting by asking the young man what he was trying to solicit from me and making kind of ‘scene’ that folks turned and began to pay attention to. Where this happening in small Occupy groups (and it IS HAPPENING all over the country) folks need to know the OWS ideal / goal / intention is being erased when the align to the MoveOn / V Jones folks. Tulsa is one example. They young man I began asking pointed questions of down here did not have any idea how to answer me and it exposed … well some kind of less than genuine alignment with Occupy. But he was, I think, well meant, well intentioned. In fact, I think he threw over Jones for OCCUPY MIAMI… This, like being offered space and services from local authorities… needs to be addressed and made more visible from the OWS / DC / Oakland larger group consensus perspective……

    1. Efforts by MoveON and similar orgs and individuals will continue to ramp up as we enter the election cycle. all of #occupy needs to ask itself- are we in this for reform or for revolution?

      1. *thought I had replied to this? * I take your point Dennis. I do think of it ‘all’ as evolution instead of revolution… I do mean EVOLUTION of the species. A global consciousness is being achieved. It’s time to grow up as a species. OCCUPY is the first serious step in that direction… as I can see.

  2. Dennis, having spent time at both OccupyWashington DC and OccupyBoston, I appreciate the work you’re doing. Van Jones remains a hero among the greens and the Center for American Progress has done outstanding work to insure green jobs remain central to federal programs to address the economic crisis of 2008 (and continuing). I understand the fear of being co-opted, like the tea party.

    However, the progressive reform of the democratic party is essential to an address to the “apocalyptic shadow of climate-change tipping points, species die-offs, a deadening commercialized culture, a political system perverted by money” (Kalle Lasn and Micah White).

    I for one welcome everything Van Jones brings to the table in this ongoing struggle to reform our political system. He is a man of great integrity and vision.

    1. Van Jones is a democrat operative who is obviously trying to hijack OWS into a democrat election campaign using a “green jobs initiative” as a front. Obama, the democrats, & the republicans are responsible for the current economic disaster, are there for enemies of OWS, & voting for any of them not only will make OWS’s work much more difficult but will also continue & exacerbate the current economic disaster.

      1. Van Jones may or may not be hijacking the movement single-handedly, but I believe there ALSO needs to be concerted efforts to work within the electoral system, which still has enormous power and control of policymaking. I for one, am very concerned that if in 2012, the GOP takes control of all three branches of our government — judiciary, legislative and executive– we’ll be truly screwed, and OWS will face a true military crackdown that will render them unable to be as effective in mobilizing and educating the masses. Educating and building positive role models for a sustainable communities are of utmost importance. The Supreme Court is already conservative, as is the House; and the Senate hangs in the balance, along with the executive/presidential office. We simply CANNOT ignore the need to be a force in the electoral politics. Maybe the OWS movement shouldn’t have a sole purpose in electoral politics; but perhaps there should be an Occupy Electoral Politics working group or something similar if people don’t want the leaderless movement — which at current seems to have a mission of raising awareness and education — to be “hijacked”.

  3. Thanks for this. I am 62 and I’ve moved into a tent as an occupier because I want to CHANGE things so that my grandchildren have some kind of world to grow up in. I’ve tried more of the same, signing petitions on line, believing in “change” and “the audacity of hope”… and I got more of the same. The system is broken and we’ve proven over and over again that trying to change it from within, or voting for lesser evils, just reinforce what we’ve already got. We are the 99%, and it’s time to change it ALL. They have the money and the media, but we’ve got the power of the people.

    1. Thank you Crystal. I know how much you have given to this effort. I heard both occupations in DC just got eviction notices. Not sure of time-table …

      1. Dennis, you have been such a major part of giving this movement a voice and a place outside the mainstream media. I love what you are doing, and hope one of these days we will sit down and compare notes. We heard about the evictions, too. James and I are in Vermont for Thanksgiving at my daughter’s planning to return Dec. 2nd with my daughter and grandsons, but we’re feeling like we should be back in D.C. sooner. This occupation business is full time. Feeling very concerned.

  4. In all of this work for equity, justice and authentic powerful change, the importance of pulling forward the voices of those who continue to be most excluded cannot be emphasized enough. White organizers, especially exceptionally educated white males, must open the circle to be devoted to inclusion of the most marginalized voices, especially Indigenous Peoples, Black and Brown Peoples, women and grandmothers.

    As the mother and grandmother of mixed race people, i have been direct witness to ongoing racism, silencing and co-optation that continues unimpeded. This must change if we are to succeed. Even Amy Goodman gives little to no voice(except periodic blips) to crucial activists and thinkers whose lives have been immersed in the bottom rungs of corporate slow motion genocide in inner cities, reservations, along the US/Mexico border and more blatant genocides/femicides in places like the Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Central America etc.

    Climate Change activists, even Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, fail to keep the serious plight of Indigenous peoples at the forefront of their work stopping Keystone Pipeline or Mountain Top Removal. Many thousands have died in recent years due to corporate resource extraction on Indigenous lands all over the world. This is NOT emphasized the way it should be. So it follows that most occupiers would fail to see racism as an issue at all. So many people of color have expressed their dismay at the racism running thru the entire movement.

    Best selling white authors are NOT the only voices who should be heard around these issues. We are betraying those who have taken the largest, most immediate hits from corporate greed. The lack of an equal number of women present in occupies is also very troubling. These are fundamental issues that must be addressed. Otherwise, we will continue reinventing the flat tire.

    1. Thank you for the comment, but I am confused.

      Are you saying that racism is at the root of my critique of Van Jones & OWS?

      I agree that white male authors are not the only voices that should be heard around these issues. That is why I asked a female OWS marcher the question in the video above. I have also talked w. Dr. Cornel West about this issue- and he used the word REVOLUTION.

      To me, revolution does not sound like finding better candidates to fit into the system; it sounds like bringing the system down and creating it with a better one- one that offers an economic and racially equality that no system can provide under our current model.

      Van Jones seems like a great guy. He really does. He just seems stuck within a narrative (Dems vs. GOP) that misses the point that both parties work together to f**K us over.


  5. the Occupy will need leaders at some point f they want to change the way things are. they could run for office and if they stay on point…(goodness for all etc) the botton line howeveris that this is a spiritual movement… not religion and these crazy people who yell out Jesus and then stand for war…. we need to love everyone…

  6. the system is broken period!
    there is no way the elites that run the planet and america will let some starry eyed idealist with a wish to change the world access
    america lost its status as a moral country when it attacked itself and blamed the muslims
    you lost when your people failed to go after the real perpetuaters of that crime
    you lost when you could see with your own 2 eyes what really happend but preferred to believe the beautiful lie.
    both parties are players in an elaborate pantomine
    it matters little who is in power the same foreign policies that the world hates is implemented
    and the average american hasnt got a clue
    too busy pepper spraying other mindless zombies at midnight sales

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