Van Jones will be worth watching tonight!


We'd say he's strongly emerged:
In our view, some good journalists have emerged in the past year or so.

Jennifer Senior has emerged at the New York Times. Is Emily Badger emerging there too? We think that may be the case.

On CNN, Alisyn Camerota has turned out to be a great hire. We think she and Chris Cuomo are emerging, although the craziness and apparent con of Mika and Joe make them the must-watch program.

Then too, there's Van Jones. It's hard to believe that he started on the national level as an early object of anti-Obama fake news propaganda. At this point, we can't exactly remember what that particular gong-show was about.

Luckily, Jones survived and ended up on CNN. Tonight, he's hosting a program at 9 P.M. which seeks to explore and explain the views of Trump voters.

CNN aired some preview tape last night. Today, Jones is interviewed at Salon. We'll recommend these exchanges, partly to make a point about his host, Chauncey DeVega:
DEVEGA (12/6/16): Help me with this idea, because I know I’m not the only one struggling with it. We can have all these national conversations about civic virtue and the need to come together. But conservatives are stuck in a feedback loop of disinformation and lies. I frankly do not think Trump supporters and conservatives en masse can be reached. I am also not willing to waste my time trying to do so.

JONES: Look, the premise of your question is not what I sign onto. I’m not trying to reach out to people to change their mind. I’m reaching out to people to change my heart. The main danger is that Trump pulls everyone down into a world of hateful suspicion and vitriol, including us. The first thing I’m trying to do is to make sure that my heart stays open and I’m actually listening—that I’m actually doing what I’m accusing them of not doing. It’s very easy for us to sit in our liberal bubbles and say these people never listen to anybody, these people stereotype people, they’re all ignorant.

DEVEGA: What if they believe things that are fundamentally not true?

JONES: Again, your premise is that there’s something wrong with them that we need to fix. My premise is there’s something wrong with us that we need to figure out because, first of all, we’re never going to convince 25 percent of the country that we’re right because they’re hardcore conservatives. If you gave them fake news, real news or no news at all they’re going to be right-wingers, so let’s not worry about that. Likewise, if they’re sitting around trying to figure out how to convince us to be Republicans, they’re wasting their time. It’s the 50 percent of the people in the middle. Again, the people who went from Obama to Trump—here’s where I think we’re failing. We’re so focused on the people who are at the extreme, who are not going to move anyway.
Jones is stating a radical idea. He states the idea that part of the problem we currently face may perhaps lie with Us.

(Is Jones allowed to say that?)

What do we want you to notice about DeVega? We want you to notice the particular way he goes to "they" in his second question.

Jones has suggested that liberals need to stop stereotyping The Others. Instantly, DeVega tries to block this idea. He does so by imagining people Over There ("they") who "believe things which are fundamentally not true."

Just for the record, the liberal world is full of people who "believe things which are fundamentally not true." DeVega imagines the possibility of encountering some such person or persons on The Other Side.

In effect, he seems to be picturing one of Them who will be completely resistant. On that basis, he's suggesting that we shouldn't waste our time trying to talk to any of Them at all.

Jones goes on to state an obvious point—politics isn't about getting 100 percent of the vote. You aren't trying to influence everyone Over There. You're trying to influence as many people as you can.

Politics isn't about winning 100 percent of the vote. Politics is about getting to 55. Again and again, liberals raise the specter of the unreachable conservative in the way DeVega does. Lazily, we use that person as an excuse to speak to none of Them at all. This is the oldest tribal instinct from the prehuman world.

(DeVega: "I frankly do not think Trump supporters and conservatives en masse can be reached." How about trying for some?)

Does part of the problem lie with Us? DeVega instinctively helps us see that the answer is yes. That said, there's no reason why we shouldn't be part of the problem. "Whom we knew as faulty, the earth's creatures?" We get to be faulty too.

Jones will be worth watching tonight. Worth watching, worth listening to.


  1. Nelson Mandela ("In His Own Words"):

    "[While in prison] I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed ... The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity."

  2. The Trump voters, excluding the 1% who know a good thing, are a mob of maniacs, beyond redemption. On the issue of climate change alone, they sell their children down the river.

    1. Pew research poll on October 5 shows 89% support for more solar, 83% for more wind power. Lots of conservatives believe in climate change, despite Fox News etc. work to the contrary, but the party elite is extremely denialist.

  3. While I appreciate what you're doing here, I think we have another problem too:

    "Politics is about getting to 55."

    This just doesn't appear to be true.

    Structural issues of our system (the Electoral College, the division of legislature into House and Senate) along with court-sanctioned extreme gerrymandering seem to be producing a country that cannot be governed by the Democratic party.

    1. How can anyone take seriously whining about our two and a half centuries old structure of checks and balances?

      "You say you'll change the constitution
      Well, you know,
      We all want to change your head."

  4. Someone who could vote for Trump is not anyone I want to know or have anything to do with. I don't care what their reasons were.

    1. Dave the Guitar PlayerDecember 7, 2016 at 12:03 PM

      They are your neighbors and fellow citizens, so they are not going away. They actually need your help. Otherwise you are condemning them to forever be in the thrall of the echo chamber they inhabit. We can't save them all, but as Bob points out, we just need some of them to hear us. But first, we have to listen.

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