Ex-White House advisor says Democrats in U.S will regroup
American President-elect Donald Trump may have built a little hate army and taken over the government, but we are going to form a massive love army and take it back, promised CNN political contributor and former Barack Obama White House advisor Van Jones while in Toronto last week for the fifth Broadbent Institute gala.
Trump, 70, will be sworn in next month as the United States’ 45th president after the most divisive election campaign in America’s history.
“The reason you will have a love army is because where there is common pain, there can be common purpose,” said Jones who is a civil rights leader. “ “There are people in our country who are not part of the elite on either side…Somewhere between these two parties (the Democratic and Republican) are ordinary people…The best of America didn’t show up in this election on either side and that’s the good news because now the best of America is awake.
“…You are going to see the beauty of the human spirit rally now and this time we are not going to be so stupid as to leave out anybody that’s hurting. We are going to put our hope against Donald Trump’s fear, we are going to put our love against his hate, we are going to put our compassion against his cold heart, we are going to put our little safety pins against his barbed wire and we are going to win. The love army is going to win.”
While fulfilling speaking engagements in rural America leading up to the election, Jones said it was obvious that people were fed up and desperately wanted change, regardless of the consequences.
“There was a rumbling sound in the country and it wasn’t a Beyoncé song,” he noted. “We are in the age of rebellions. The rebels are on the rise and the establishment is on the rope. It is very clear that ordinary people are sick of it and they are not having it anymore. In my country, what people have seen is a bipartisan elite consensus that every single time is wrong.”
Jones suggested that the elites and donors who drive the political parties played into Trump’s hands.
“They live on the coast and they listen to NPR (National Public Radio),” he said. “They have no idea how the actual media consumption works in the country. This is not anything new.”
While underestimated and frowned upon much like Franklin Roosevelt who understood radio, John F. Kennedy who grasped television and Barack Obama who understood you could raise money online and have viral videos, Jones said Trump prevailed because he understands social media.
“This is the era of social media and reality television and in that era, Trump is the underestimated invincible candidate because the rules are different,” he pointed out. “Saying outrageous stuff on twitter doesn’t get you fewer followers. Being the villain on a reality television show doesn’t get you fewer viewers. It makes you the star. But nobody on the coast watches ‘The Real Housewives’ of whatever town. So they had no idea that all the stuff he was doing is the stuff that actually follows the rules of the new media system. We, in the elite media, thought that Donald Trump left the world of entertainment and climbed over the barrier into the world of politics. No. He pulled the world of politics over the wall into the world of entertainment and reality television and now we are all stuck in his show. It’s a nightmare.”
While Hillary Clinton raised more than twice the money than Trump did, Jones said her campaign outreach strategy failed marginal communities who felt disempowered and disaffected.
“What they don’t tell you and what they don’t want to admit and what we are going to challenge them on as we reorganize this party is that this so-called demographic firewall, which is basically Black people, got pennies,” he noted. “They told me to my face that they didn’t have to invest in Latino-organizing because Trump was going to be the best organizer for Democrats when it came to Latinos. So they just kept giving money to the consultants.”
Jones said Voto Latino, a pioneering civic media organization that uses innovative digital campaigns to empower young Latinos to become change agents, ran out of money registering Latino voters and Black communities in North Carolina were screaming for more money.
“They said, ‘no, no’, our data and our model show that we are fine,” he said. “…Between 92 and 94 per cent of African-Americans have to show up in massive numbers and vote at that percentage for Democrats to have a chance to win. We couldn’t get money for turnout because there was an elite group that thought all of those groups were just greedy…Democrats in our country put a billion dollars in a barrel and set in on fire. That was our election strategy.”
In addition to not understanding the media environment and the demographic challenge of getting turnout and investing in it, Jones claims the elites that run the Democratic Party and the election campaign didn’t understand America’s industrial heartland.
He said they paid the price for taking the workers for granted.
“If you push money down to real people and let them organize, you empower them and inspire them and let them get out there and make the real argument that you can’t be beaten by anybody in the world,” added Jones who helped run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion in green energy spending while working as a green jobs advisor to the Obama White House in 2009. “That’s the lesson. We have to invest in real people’s ability to fight for themselves. The reason that this whole thing worked is because folks are hurting. Hurt people holler and sometimes it sounds like Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.”
Launched in 2011, the Broadbent Institute run a state-of-the-art training and leadership program for emerging leaders.