Why The Resignation of Van Jones Matters

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor, KO Zine)

The Obama administration recently lost one of its most valuable staff members. Van Jones, the now former Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), gave up his post last weekend, but since most of you probably have no idea that the CEQ even exists you probably also have no idea of the great asset this administration just lost.

After attending Yale law school, Jones began his career as a San Francisco-based activist, protesting police brutality and joining a group committed to Marxist politics. He continued to dedicate his life to human rights issues and, following Hurricane Katrina, developed a grassroots organization addressing Black issues called ‘Color of Change.’

More recently, he combined his activism for the working class with environmentalism to promote eco-capitalism. His green-collar jobs campaign works to lift people out of poverty with the creation of green jobs. He wrote “The Green Collar Economy” on this topic.

Jones spent half his life building his resume to get him to the White House, but it only took about a month for Glenn Beck and company to tear him down. Two specific issues are what those highly-respected commentators chose to focus on in their smear campaign.

First, there was the 9/11 truther conspirators that Jones chose to align himself with. He has said he doesn’t actually believe that the Bush administration created 9/11, but it was probably a mistake to even associate with these fringe activists.

Second, he probably shouldn’t call Republicans assholes. Last week, when asked why the Bush Administration was more pushy than Obama’s, Jones simply stated, “Well the answer to that is, they’re assholes.” What he really meant is that Republicans tend to be stubborn and more willing to piss people off. Instead, he said assholes. I can’t say I disagree, but probably not the best word.

Citing this smear campaign as a distraction to the Obama administration (nevermind all of the positives in his career), Jones officially stepped down September 5. I am tired of this ‘distraction’ excuse. Distraction or not, Jones could have used his experience to help this administration accomplish something. Instead, they let him go. And, it seems, without a fuss.

Of course, unlike most of us, Jones has plenty of other options now that he’s unemployed. Blogger Arianna Huffington hopes that Jones will rediscover his voice on the outside, now that he no longer has the White House’s approval to worry about. As Huffington put it, since he no longer has to focus on detailed tax credits, he’ll have more time for speaking and firing up the public. Something the left is in dire need of these days.

So, Van Jones, let’s put this resignation to good use. I’ve heard there are some crazy town hall assholes who are ready for a battle.


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