The Red State of Jones

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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34 Responses

  1. Tracy Downey says:

    Thanks for writing on this. Deep down I think Van Jones just wants to be seen as a likable centrist yet stumbles on his messaging?…I think Matt wants to legitimize CPAC as it once was—credible and it’s not anymore.I find it amusing that the same people that claim fake news wanted a CNN commentator there to create their headlines.Report

  2. Stillwater says:

    I’m fine with Van Jones at CPAC as well, tho this comment from one of your quotations had me chuckling:

    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.

    I guess the idea is that conservative politicians opportunistically poached a liberal issue to gain support with conservative voters? Or something?

    To the substance, tho … I always thought that the most compelling political argument for legalizing pot was and remains inherently conservative: keeping it illegal is a massive monetary sinkhole. Huge amounts of tax dollars spent, zero revenues collected. So I’m glad to see conservatives using the balance sheet to effectuate better policy.Report

  3. Maribou says:

    I read this interview with Jones from the Marshall Project at some point over the summer and he impressed me with his ability to stay on message and positive then:

    Going into CPAC is really a big leap of faith for him, considering what else has gone on there. I’d even say it was brave.

    The man does what he needs to do to get his opinions heard and make progress happen. I imagine that some of those things are things I could not bring myself to do, and yet…. I don’t imagine they are things I would object to him doing.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

      Oh, and I meant to say, Splinter obviously doesn’t deserve the extra eyeballs it’s going to be getting from being the focus of right-wing indignation on this.

      He’s giving credit to right-wingers at CPAC because he wants the right-wingers to listen to him. Tthat doesn’t mean he’s slapping the left-wing proponents in the face, he’s all over the place giving them equal or more credit (as in the above-linked interview).

      Honestly sometimes it’s like some parts of the left have never heard of the concept of how to work with difficult people or something. Do those segments’ participants all have trust funds? Have none of them had to hold down a job where they needed to exercise some diplomacy to survive, let alone achieve anything? WTF. (It’s not that they disagree with him, it’s the level of contempt they cheerfully let loose with, and how much it seems to cloud their judgment of their own allies.) Surely not. And yet. It’s embarrassing.Report

      • InMD in reply to Maribou says:

        One of the things I think the right is often better at than the left is pragmatism about people who agree with their policy preferences in certain cases albeit for different, or even the ‘wrong’ reasons. We don’t all have to go to the same church to work together where we can.Report

        • Maribou in reply to InMD says:

          @inMD I probably agree with you that the right in Maryland is better at that than the left in Maryland. I disagree decidedly that that’s the case here in Colorado.

          Seems more like a general human failing on the national or international scale, I just resent it more on the left because I tend to agree with them on policies / general norms drastically more often, and on questions of what is and isn’t moral a lot more often. That being the case I’m a lot more invested in the left’s public figures being canny. (Not wishy-washy, or hollow. Canny.)

          Even if I don’t want to have to be canny myself.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Maribou says:

        The right-wing has not done much to deserve any good faith from the left for the past few years. This started well before Trump. CPAC has always been home to the “own the libs” trolls.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          @saul-degraw (and others) Jeez louise, when I said “leap of faith” I didn’t mean “he suddenly thinks they’re just wonderful people” – regardless of what he might say publically on the matter in their house – I meant, “here he is, a black guy that ANY of those racists, assholes, and racist assholes could research up the wazoo and read all about how terrible and scary he is, and he went and sat in the middle of them and talked them into believing they’re pro-criminal-justice-reform” – at least in the moment. Not a leap of faith in THEM, a leap of faith in the damn universe that people can be less dangerous to you than you might reasonably fear they could be.


      • Jesse in reply to Maribou says:

        Many of the people that were upset on Twitter on this were people who had worked for years, if not decades for criminal justice reform, upset that Jones had given all the credit over to people who had happily thrown their friends and families in jail for decades, but who have turned around on the issue either because of financial realities or because Kim Kardashian posted about it on Twitter.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jesse says:

          Question: How many governors with Ds after their names are doing something similar?Report

        • LTL FTC in reply to Jesse says:

          I can understand why people who have been working on the issue for years would be annoyed. However, if it’s between acting deferential to people who have been trying and failing to advance an issue for years, or encouraging people who share your goals for all the wrong reasons but seem to be having some success…Report

        • Maribou in reply to Jesse says:

          Did he give all the credit over or was he canny enough to say what people wanted to hear in a context where they wanted to hear it, as part of making sure progress continues to be made?

          If you aren’t comfortable flattering narcissists in select venues on select occasions, it’s going to be a damn hard road getting the current Republican party to do anything.

          I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but when I think about Jones doing it I spend a lot more time thinking about pregnant women not being shackled and what the second step is, than I do about giving credit where credit’s due.

          Of course a lot of the more well-known people who were upset on Twitter and actually *do* care about reform and have put a ton of work in to the same efforts may very well be fully deliberately playing their own part in Jones’ performance…. I mean, if you want Republicans feeling like they’ve pOwned you, someone has to act upset at being pOwned… it’s what I’d do if I were them, and if I were constitutionally capable of being canny in that way, which I am really not – a failing at least as often as it is a good thing.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

            I’m not saying anything of this is great long-term. It’s a pretty fucked up way to live and it bears a very high cost and there’s a large risk that you will wound your allies irreparably rather than cooperatively snowing the powerful narcissist who is so toxic and dangerous.

            But as a short-term strategy to get out of an impasse on a situation that has been functionally stuck for a long time, it’s pretty smart. And even admirable.Report

  4. Matt Schlapp is the guy that told Michael Steele to “show a little grace” after being attacked by a fellow Republican as a failed token black. “Massive dumbass” is way too kind.Report

  5. Road Scholar says:

    Oftentimes the easiest way to get what you want is to convince your opponent that it was their idea all along.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    I think the ideal of this blog, that people with radically different viewpoints can discuss heated topics in a serious but friendly matter, is not in step with the times. There is something naive and Pollyannaish about it.

    Here is another view of CPAC:

    And as conservatism has shifted under the weight of Trump’s popularity among conservatives, “CPAC has changed, too, growing increasingly more reflective of the “own the libs” silo of the conservative movement, which has its own celebrities (Diamond and Silk, for example) and its own priorities and language. You can still go to CPAC and learn more about how to run for city council or discuss criminal justice reform, but that same CPAC will feature a lot of talk about George Soros.”

    I used to be more skeptical of it but I’m starting to appreciate the brasher tones of Splinter more and more. A lot of left-leaning voters are fucking pissed off at the sheer unstoppable hypocrisy of right-leaning voters. The alleged “value voters” or “moral majority” who ended up supporting such a loathsome individual as Trump because they just want justices who will get rid of abortion and maybe overturn the pro-gay rights decisions.

    Van Jones’ comments also do ignore all the hardwork done by non-elected activists for years and often for no money or prestige. It ignores the reformist District Attorneys in cities like Philadelphia.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      While I appreciate that it is 2019, I come from the perspective that the alternatives to discussing heated topics in a serious but friendly manner are pretty much all worse.

      I am more than happy to be stuck back in 2014 if it means that I can have serious (but friendly) discussions on heated topics.

      Allow me to quote John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

      Edit: Wait… does this mean that you’re coming around to the “divorce or war is inevitable” position?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

        Wal-mart apparently made an ad featuring a gay couple and now Evangelicals are in an outrage and demanding that Wal-mart remain neutral:

        Is this what you want to support? Neutral here seems to mean go back to the closet?

        I’m not in the mood to give right-wingers any benefit of the doubt anymore. They don’t give us any benefit of the doubt and all they do is make bad-faith arguments and/or concern trolling statements.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I’m not in the mood to give right-wingers any benefit of the doubt anymore. They don’t give us any benefit of the doubt and all they do is make bad-faith arguments and/or concern trolling statements.

          Waitaminute! The right’s reaction to Walmart airing this commercial was absolutely 100% predictable. How does a foreseeable reaction constitute not giving the left the benefit of the doubt? Some factions on the right are anti-gay. We already know this. And those folks – unsurprisingly – don’t want Walmart taking sides in the debate.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Eh, I’d be more inclined to wonder if this is going to make you even 1% more inclined to shop at Wally World.

          And, of course, if this is going to make those toothless hillbilly shitkickers 1% less inclined to shop there. Maybe they’ll start going to Dollar Authority Figure instead.

          If coming out of the closet cost them money, they could have just gotten away with having yet another ad about how they’re getting rid of greeters and not paying attention to the ADA when it comes to where they’re reassigning them.

          If, however, this gay thing gives them cover among the more gullible members of the loudest part of left for how they’re treating the disabled, it’s a pretty smart move on their part.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

            Eh, I’d be more inclined to wonder if this is going to make you even 1% more inclined to shop at Wally World.

            And, of course, if this is going to make those toothless hillbilly shitkickers 1% less inclined to shop there.

            Walmart must have believed to the point of near certainty, like Nike prior to ads supporting Kaepernick, that a pro-gay* commercial would be net-positive for them financially.

            * well … you know what I meanReport

    • JoeSal in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      So LGM, Splinter, are you also a fan of Salon? NYT? Washington Post?

      No wonder you have opinions about conservatives, ha.Report

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Yes the hypocrisy is glaring and galling. This is the movement that poured out the avalanche of deranged accusations throughout the Obama admin that is now quietly taking up the ideas they once denounced as “soft on crime” (and still do when opposing the same policies in blue states where they’re in the opposition).
      The question is how to accept winning on the policy issue here without excusing the previous derangement and that’s a sticky question indeed.Report

  7. JoeSal says:

    Interesting stuff Andrew.
    I wonder if this reform stuff isn’t a effect of many libertarians mixing higher up in the y-axis with conservatives.Report

    • InMD in reply to JoeSal says:

      I think it’s less libertarianism and more pocketbook issues at the state level. The feds can run deficits and voodoo economics until the cows come home but states and localities can’t. Those are also the places where the brunt of over criminalization is felt. National politicians have driven the conversation but its governors and state legislators who have had to manage paying for it.Report

      • JoeSal in reply to InMD says:

        There is a subfaction of the libertarianism that is engaged more on the local levels. Running for offices and engaging politics.

        It somewhat made a rift in libertarian camps about 10 months ago. The camps remained somewhat unresolved in which ‘engagment’ in politics was seen as counter to the libertarian principles.

        The ‘engage’ side was making the case that politics is already being forced upon libertarianism, which made a case for engagment on defensive grounds, but also opened up possibilities of offensive engagment.

        I can’t tell if this had anything to do with the rise of national libertarianism that has been developing.

        Maybe their cause and state and governor priorities are aligning or something.Report

  8. Burt Likko says:

    I found this damn depressing.

    Of course, just talking to the other side can be considered heresy enough these days. But maybe that’s the point.

    Maybe that’s because I’ve been considering some form of criminal justice reform advocacy as either an avocation or a further career shift recently, and Van Jones is sort of a model for that for those of us who aren’t on the right, and if this is what happens to him, then it makes me wonder whether it’s a viable thing for an individual to pursue.Report

  9. Jesse says:

    “Frankly, our politics could use more iconoclast, not less.”

    We actually don’t. Also, Bernie didn’t go to Liberty University and talk about how great evangelicals are about women’s rights or something else as silly as praising the conservative movement on criminal justice matters.

    If Van Jones wanted to go to CPAC, call them out for 40 years of “tough on crime” rheotric, then give them some credit for the kinda meh First Step (which is still better than what the status quo was) Bill, OK.

    What Jones did was the equivalent of buying your kid who has been failing out of high school a new car because he got some D-‘s while ignoring the kid who has gotten all A’s and B’s because that’s nothing new.Report

  10. Aaron David says:

    I would say that this is quite possibly the best thing that is happening right now, in a Nixon Goes to China kind of way. Well earned kudos to Mr. Jones.Report