Van Jones and Alan Grayson on the Strength of the #OWS Movement
Al Sharpton spoke to former Rep. Alan Grayson and Van Jones about the strength of the Occupy Wall Street movement and that both of them see the movement doing nothing but growing as our political class and the elites of America continue to remain disconnected from the 99 percent of the country that want to see the richest among us pay their fair share in taxes and something done about the extreme income disparity we've seen grow continually worse over the last decade.
You can find Van Jones site here -- Rebuild the Dream.
And if you'd like to donate to Alan Grayson's campaign, he's one of our Blue America candidates for '12 and you can do so here.
Transcript below the fold.
SHARPTON: Welcome to POLITICSNATION. I`m Al Sharpton. Tonight`s lead -- the birth of a new progressive movement in America. Marking the two-month anniversary of the middle class movement, protesters across the nation today took to the streets to march for families. In New York City at this hour thousands of protesters are in downtown Manhattan in route to the Brooklyn Bridge. We`ve already seen massive marches from Zuccotti Park to the New York Stock Exchange as thousands gathered near Wall Street.
For the most part the march was peaceful, but more than 170 people were arrested for blocking streets and clogging traffic. At least seven police officers have been injured in clashes.
And it`s not just in New York. In Los Angeles hundreds marched to the financial district chanting "Banks got bailed out. We got sold out."
In Portland organized labor and activists rallied on the waterfront and shut down the steel bridge. In Dallas occupiers woke up to eviction as police shut down their tent city, evicting dozens.
And we`re now looking at a live picture of thousands of protesters who are planning to get across the Brooklyn Bridge. Let me say that we can see all over the country people are standing up, standing in unity, saying, we must deal with economic inequality.
I can assure you many will be discussing things that are really not the point. Was it 200,000 or 20,000 or 2,000? The point is that it is enough to change the conversation in this country. We that march, we that engage in civil disobedience are not doing it because people like to get arrested or people like to be out in the cold. We do it because you must dramatize what is going on to have those that are ignoring it have to deal and address the problems.
Joining me now, two fellow warriors for the 99 percent, Van Jones, president of Rebuild the Dream, and former congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat from Florida. Van, your line yesterday was, quote, "You haven`t seen anything yet. What do you think is coming next for this movement?"
VAN JONES, PRESIDENT, "REBUILD THE DREAM": This is a great day for democracy. We are three years into the worst economic disaster since the great depression, and people have been sitting on a white hot stove for three years hoping that Washington, D.C. would come save them. People realize now we`ve got to stand up for ourselves.
The American dream means that people who work hard should be able to get someplace. We are now seeing the American dream being thrown in the garbage can. The people who don`t work hard and break the rules, the people who sit there on Wall Street, you know, making money off making money, those are the ones who profited and the rest of us have been suffering. So this is a great day for democracy.
What`s next? We have to move from anger to answers. People want the Occupy movement has blown the doors open. The rest of us in the 99 percent who have ideas and solutions like at rebuildthedream.com, we`ve got good ideas now, and we`ve got the opportunity to not just talk about the problems but also talk about solutions.
SHARPTON: Congressman Grayson, I think that we have seen any number of movements now from labor in Wisconsin and Ohio to the jobs march we did in the November around Martin Luther King`s memorial, jobs and justice, Occupy two months today. All of this must lead to real solution and answers as Van says, and it move to some action in the Congress and the Senate. How do we make that transition?
FORMER REP. ALAN GRAYSON, (D) FLORIDA: Well, the same way we did in the `60s. I`m in my second half century like you, reverend, so I remember what that was like. And this is what it looked like. This is what the beginning looked like in the `60s. People marching, protesting, saying we desperately need change. We`re not going to take any more. Our leaders have to follow us and get things done. That`s what led to clean air and clean water, safe food, safe cars, women`s rights, and peace. And you`ll see the same transition now in this country 50 years later.
SHARPTON: But just like in the `60s and the `70s, and the `80s when we fought and got change and I was involved and still am in a lot of these things, I`m clear there are people pushing back. There are people fighting us. There are people that are not going to give in easily, and we can`t romanticize that. That is why it`s important that we have all kinds of expressions of movement but, as Van Jones says, that are pointing towards answers and solutions. How do we make the Congress understand though that they must legislate and not just sit by and act like spectators.
JONES: We have an election coming up, but even before the election, the so-called super committee, which should be called the super awful committee, apparently is thinking about next week, even in the face of all of this protest, coming forward with proposals that will just add pain to the pain and impose even more devastating cuts on the American people.
If you -- the reason I say you haven`t seen anything yet is if the streets and the elites stay this far apart, where you have a movement going one direction saying we want more economic opportunity, more fairness, more help for the people, and the elites in D.C. go the other direction and try to impose more pain on the people, the movement you see right now will grow by 10 times. The super committee needs to stop putting forward super bad ideas and come forward with some super proposals for jobs, number one.
SHARPTON: Congressman Grayson, what will move Congress? I`ve been down Occupy Wall Street. We had our marches, as I said last month. People are still mobilizing. What will make the Congress change as we saw in the past?
GRAYSON: Think about what brought us the civil rights movement. We had a million people show up at the Washington monument and demand their rights. We`re going to need the same thing right now. But now it`s not just one race. It`s all America. It`s the 99 percent. It`s all of us who just can`t take anymore.
The sheep are looking up, and they`re going to demand that Congress listens. And if that means Occupy Washington, D.C., that`s fine. If it means Occupy Wall Street, that`s fine, whatever it takes, because people just can`t take it anymore. And America needs to head in a different direction. They will have to listen.
In the same way the Tea Party occupied all of our town hall meetings two years ago, now real people, real middle class people need, people who are suffering, experiencing the misery of having their Social Security taken away, their Medicare taken away, losing their pensions, their jobs, their homes, they`re going to speak up. The sheep are going to look up and they`re going to take over.
SHARPTON: Now that is the hypocrisy that I am hearing, Van. There are those that are complaining about all of the efforts that all of us are doing, but a year ago when the Tea Party was marching and the Tea Party was doing vigils and some of them even standing in front of public forums holding weapons, they were expressing themselves as Americans. Now all of a sudden these that are out there, those of us doing other things, are called troublemakers, those that disrespect the law.
They can`t have it both ways. When Americans stand up, let me show you this graph. When 68 percent of Americans are saying they`re supporting taxing millionaires, 68 percent of millionaires even saying it, people are outraged at the economic inequality. When it was the Tea Party on the right, they had rights. When Glenn Beck was leading marches, they had rights. Now when you have Occupy Wall Street, when you have all of those of us doing other efforts, all of a sudden, we are being disruptive. No, we are talking for the majority of Americans.
JONES: Yes. And I think that`s one of the most important things we can say. The other thing they`re trying to say is that this is some kind of movement that is against everything American. No, it`s a patriotic movement. If this country is supposed to be a place of equal opportunity we have the American dream and Cain`s dream, we are supposed to be a place where equal opportunity means something. It shouldn`t just be just a cruel joke.
And we`re standing up for that. That`s what patriots do. You stand up and defend your country against the people who want to rig the game.
The other thing is this is not a movement that hates rich people just for being rich. If it were that kind of movement we`d call it Occupy Silicon Valley. No. It`s not about hating the economic winners. It`s about hating the economic cheaters. We`re tired of the cheaters. We`re tired of people rigging the game so that they can get ahead and the rest of us can`t get anywhere.
And so this is a very American movement. It`s saying we want to have equal opportunity. Quit rigging the game. Quit cheating. If you`re successful, that`s great. But don`t be greedy. Don`t use your wealth to hurt the country. Use your health to help the country. That`s the message of this movement.
SHARPTON: Congressman Alan Grayson, and Van Jones, thanks to both of you for your time.
JONES: Thank you very much for the opportunity.