The Red State of Jones
Van Jones, high-profile Democrat, former Obama Administration Green Czar, CNN contributor/host, and noted social justice warrior, was the most talked about star of day one of CPAC.
Seriously, people had very strong reactions to Jones appearing for what was billed as a “discussion on criminal justice reform,” an issue Van Jones has championed for many years.
He said this:
“Here’s the deal. The conservative movement in this country—unfortunately from my point of view—is now the leader on this issue of reform,” Jones said. “You look at Mississippi. A rock-ribbed, totally conservative former jailer is the governor there, Gov. [Phil] Bryant. Gov. Bryant has cut the prison population and crime at the same time. [Former] Gov. [Nathan] Deal in Georgia cut the prison population and crime at the same time….what you’re seeing now are Republican governors being tough on the dollars, tough on crime, and shrinking prison populations, and showing the rest of the country that it can be done.”
“My problem is that I now have a conservative movement, that for libertarian reasons, Christian conservative reasons, and fiscally conservative reasons, is doing a great job on what is supposed to be my issue,” Jones added, laughing. “You are stealing my issue.”
That statement was covered thusly by The Federalist:
Van is right that credit is due to conservatives in red states who led the charge on criminal justice reform over a decade ago. The FIRST STEP Act heavily borrowed from Texas’s playbook on sentencing, rehabilitation, and re-entry programs. Of the 28 states that have embarked on criminal justice reform of some degree, 19 were led by Republican governors or legislatures.
And as follows by Splinter:
CNN commentator Van Jones, a man who was forced out of the Obama White House after an avalanche of faux conservative outrage, appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference today alongside a murderers’ row of racists, dipshits, and racist dipshits for a rather bewildering reason: to praise conservatives for doing the bare-ass minimum on criminal justice reform.
Alongside White House senior advisor (and boy who is tall for his age) Jared Kushner, Jones played a key role in passing some criminal justice reforms last year with the First STEP Act. While that law was woefully inadequate given the magnitude of problems with the criminal justice system as a whole, it was admittedly better than what we had before.
That does not, however, justify Jones giving the bulk of the credit for reform to opportunistic right-wingers, effectively giving a big slap in the face to the many activists and advocacy groups who have been tirelessly working for decades for reform at all levels.
Speaking during an appearance with massive dumbass Matt Schlapp that was moderated by the Daily Caller’s Saagar Enjeti, Jones said this dumb thing, and then went off on a tangent where he credited “the conservative movement” with being “the leader”on criminal justice reform.
Social media was even more heated. You can look those up yourself.
It is a fascinating experiment in the current political environment. Van Jones’ progressive credentials prior to partnering with the Trump a
dministration to whip up support for the First Step Act were impeccable. Since attending the signing ceremony, in which President Trump invited Jones and others to make remarks, he has given credit to those that have sought to work on the issue of criminal justice reform while fending off attacks from his left that too little was being done, and certainly was being done by the wrong people.
Appearing at CPAC with Trump cheerleader-in-chief Matt Schlapp, whose wife works in the administration, was too much for some. Jones was booed a bit when discussing illegal immigration, but overall was treated warmly by the crowd.
The CPAC crowd breaks out in boos after Van Jones says, accurately, that “undocumented immigrants right now have a lower crime rate than the rest of us.” pic.twitter.com/BAE1WQVW9F
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2019
Honestly, I don’t get it. Jones didn’t back off anything he believes in as far as I can tell. He might have dialed it down in deference to his host but he didn’t go full apostate and said things he knew good and well would not be popular. Of course, just talking to the other side can be considered heresy enough these days. But maybe that’s the point. If some folks somewhere don’t push a little on going to uncomfortable places to say uncomfortable things, we’ve lost the plot completely anyway.
So I’m fine with Van Jones at CPAC, and whoever from the right Netroots wants to invite in next year. I was fine, and found the conversation enlightening, when Bernie Saunders did a full speech and follow-up Q & A at Liberty University during the 2016 campaign. Frankly, our politics could use more iconoclast, not less. But I’m not holding my breath that it happens very often.
Besides, look how entertaining and productive the social media responses are.
Here’s the full CPAC segment.