Environmental activist Van Jones, a former advisor to President Barack Obama, rallied the crowd with a keynote speech Saturday afternoon at the Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis.
“I’m sick of us getting kicked around, folks. I’m sick and tired of it,” he told the crowd.
Jones accused banks and oil interests of being “committed to one thing and one thing only: they are committed to killing the American dream.”
“We’ll fight, and fight well,” he said of the crowd, and progressives across the country. “This is guaranteed. The question is, will we fight together, or will we fight alone? We have a common enemy and we face a common peril.”
“They’ve got a wrecking ball painted red, white and blue.”
However, it’s time to work as a group instead of relying on a charismatic leader, which he called the “genius of the Tea Party.” Though the Tea Party is one of the perceived enemies of progressives, Jones said, they’re doing something right. Even if Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, the figureheads with the group, declared the Tea Party over, it would still live on, because its supporters have been empowered as group members.
“They have built a starfish, and not a spider,” he said.
In 2008, progressives rallied around then-candidate Obama. Now, without a leader, supporters are scattered and disjointed. Jones encouraged them to band together and network online and in person.
“The cheap patriots are gonna have to deal with the real patriots,” he said. “The cheap patriots are going to have to deal with the people who believe in liberty and justice for all.”