Van Jones is founding president of Rebuild the Dream, a pioneering initiative to restore good jobs and economic opportunity. He is the co-founder of three, thriving organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All. Jones is the author ofThe New York Times best seller, The Green Collar Economy, and most recently, the book Rebuild the Dream.
A Yale-educated attorney, Van worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House in 2009. There, he helped run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion in green recovery spending. Time Magazine has named Jones one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Van Jones: I don't understand how this individual mandate is something that we’ve allowed the Republicans to define as some sort of, quote-unquote, government takeover. In fact, it’s their idea. The progressives were saying we want single-payer. Myself, I would say why do you need insurance companies for health care at all. Insurance is what you buy when you don't know if something bad is going to happen. Maybe I’ll crash my car. Maybe I won't. I don't know. So I’m going to get car insurance just in case. Everybody’s going to get sick and die, so you know every single person’s going to need health insurance. That's not something you can provide insurance for, that's called a service.
So my view, single-payer. The Republicans always said, no, that's too much government. So we came back and said, okay, no single-payer. How about a public option? So you’d a public program, everybody could join Medicare or compete with the private companies, too much government. We want individual responsibility. So we said, fine, you win. We’ll do it your way, individual mandate. And then, they say that is a socialist government takeover. Well, hold on a second now. You’re now a part of the pro-moocher caucus? You’re saying it’s okay for people to just dive bomb their way into the emergency room? Yeah, don't worry about it. Don't get any insurance. The government will pay for it. Now, you're like the pro-freeloader party?
This Republican Party, from my point of view, has taken the posture that any idea, even their own ideas, if they’re championed by this president, they will oppose. And I think that discredits them. It’s like chasing a bunny on the old dog track. They have a mechanical bunny. If you’ve ever been to a dog track, I’m from Tennessee, if you ever go to Memphis, they have a dog track and they have a mechanical bunny. And they open the gates and the dogs just go and try and chase that mechanical bunny. And I think those dogs probably think someday they’re going to catch that bunny. They’re never going to catch that bunny because the bunny keeps moving.
You’re trying to chase the right to try to convince them to agree with you. They will run away from their own ideas if they think a Democrat embraces them. It was a Republican idea to have cap and trade, a market-based, business-friendly solution for carbon and climate problems. That was the Heritage Foundation that came up with cap and trade. We were saying carbon tax. To chase them, we moved to cap and trade and they moved on to don't do anything. Climate change isn't even real.
On health care, it was their idea to have an individual mandate and personal responsibility and don't have a big government single-payer system. We moved from single-payer through public option to individual mandate trying to catch them and now they say that the individual mandate is socialism. You will never catch this bunny. You will never, so what you need to do is stand for what you believe in and bring a majority around your own ideas and govern. And it’s the biggest fallacy on the part of liberals is that that little hound dog running around that track is ever going to catch that bunny and that we will ever be able to compromise enough to appease the right wing in this country so they’ll actually govern with us in a responsible way. They have to be defeated at the ballot box by a stable governing majority that can implement the changes that we need in this country, whether they want to participate or not.
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton