By Kendall Alexander
CNN News commentator and author Van Jones was the latest in the Free Library of Philadelphia’s author’s series to discuss his new book, “Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together” last Thursday.
As someone who spends a lot of time in Washington, D.C., Jones was happy for the change of scenery.
“I’m so happy to be in Philly right now and not in the capital, maaaaan!” Jones exclaimed.
During his talk, the political analyst was not shy about speaking his mind and giving his opinion on the State of the Union. At one point, he explained how his children act when they lose sporting events and what the car ride home sounds like including deflection, blaming, and name-calling, emphasizing that this is the type of country we live in post-Obama. The metaphor was painful, yet timely, as President Trump has based a large portion of his tenure in office performing the aforementioned actions.
The audience was taken back to an easier time in democracy to rally around a winner.
“How hard did you work in ‘08 to win that race? How hard did you work in ‘12, Mitt Romney–who I’d not only vote for but I’d give a lap dance!” Jones asked.
He explained that Democrats were lamenting during the election and ultimate inauguration of Trump, but that there is a reason the country is in this state now.
“You got to let them [Democrats] grieve, but not too long,” Jones said. “We’re going to have to do something different.”
During the discussion, Jones offered three main points for audience members to take away from his book:
- Both parties suck and signed off on policies that collapsed the middle class
- For us as progressives, we’ve done something beautiful [inclusion], but we’ve made mistakes [that we have to own]
- We underestimate the heroism of our cause [activism]–I don’t think you understand what you signed up for
Jones was energetic, honest, insightful, and unapologetic during the talk.The experience was like hearing from a friend who has been away for a while and comes back to relay their exciting news. During the question and answer session, the audience asked questions about a variety of topics ranging from the rise of Bernie Sanders, who can defeat Trump, if Trump’s policies or persona was more damaging for the country, and how to combat fake news.
Jones answered with a comedic, but also clear understanding of the position we need to take as American citizens. He closed his commentary telling attendees to purchase his book offering it as ‘a cure for the crazy,’ and wanted to make it clear that what is to be faced ahead will not be a cakewalk.
“In closing — quit acting like this is supposed to be easy. America is hard to do and democracy isn’t an app you can download and poke every four years,” Jones said.