Van Jones: Republicans Who Want A Colorblind Meritocracy Have A Racial "Blind Spot"

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Van Jones talked about racial "blind spots" in both parties Sunday morning on CNN. Brian Stelter, host of CNN's Reliable Sources, said he believed race "wasn't talked about enough" during the campaign. " It was talked around. It wasn't talked about enough," Stelter commented.

Jones said he has become "the poster child" for calling Trump voters racists, however, he doesn't believe all are. Jones said Trump supporters "tolerated racism" and that hurt his feelings.

"Suddenly I have become the poster child for calling all the Trump people racists, when, in fact, I don't think they're all racists, but they tolerated racism. And that's a problem," he said.

"I'm not saying you're a racist, necessarily, but I'm saying you tolerated it," he said. "You didn't reject it. And that hurts my feelings."

Jones said Republicans who want a party of colorblind meritocracy is actually proves they have a racial blindspot "that they don't want to deal with" on purpose.

"What I see, you have both political parties with big, big blind spots that they don't want to deal with," he commented. "And then you have the Republican Party, who see themselves in their heart of hearts as being a party of colorblind meritocracy. That's their great belief about themselves."

BRIAN STELTER: Here with me in New York, Van Jones. He hosts a special here on CNN, "The Messy Truth" this Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

And, Van, this started as a web series, talking with voters before Election Day. Why do you want to do it? What is "The Messy Truth?"

VAN JONES: Well, themessytruth.org started was just me going out to Trump country and talking to Trump voters before the election because I had a fear, I said, listen, after this election, how do we put this back together no means? I went to Gettysburg, I said, are we on the verge of another civil war? Is this how we do civil wars now, with tweets instead of bullets? Can we ever come back together?

So, I was sitting with Trump voters before the election and then afterwards. And the truth is messy. A lot of liberals think all the Trump voters are a part of the alt right, neo Nazi camp, which is not true. That's a tiny, tiny slice.

There are some people delighted with that stuff and play with it. But you had a lot of other voters who are like those voters. They heard those inflammatory comments from Trump. They weren't delighted by them, but they didn't find those comments disqualifying.

They didn't agree with them. They didn't find them disqualifying because they had other hurts that they did not feel Democrats understood.

STELTER: When you look back at the election coverage, the year and a half plus of election coverage, was there not enough of this kind of listening to normal voters?

JONES: I think we're going to be going back to this whole thing. I think that, again, the truth is messy, both political -- what I see, you have both political parties with big, big blind spots that they don't want to deal with.

With the Democrats, they see themselves, we see ourselves as the party of the working folks, the striving, you know, the good.

But, without anybody acknowledging it, there is now this little camp of folks who come across as very elitist, that look down on red state voters, who think that Republicans are dumb people.

And that has become acceptable in the Democratic Party. And it makes that party disrespectful to so many Americans.

And then you have the Republican Party, who see themselves in their heart of hearts as being a party of colorblind meritocracy. That's their great belief about themselves.

And yet somehow you also have a party where a lot of racial resentment and a camp of even neo-Nazis have set up camp in their party. If you point it out to them, they get mad at you, not at the neo-Nazis. Both parties, both parties have big blind spots and also great virtues. And neither party wants to deal with its own stuff. They keep pointing at the other. That's messy. That's messy.

STELTER: On election night, you had the word of the night, whitelash.

JONES: Yes.

STELTER: It's been used ever since to describe what happened in the election. That's messy.

JONES: Yes.

STELTER: Race wasn't talked about enough, I think, during the campaign. It was talked around. It wasn't talked about enough.

JONES: But here is the thing.

I said it was a whitelash in part. People saw me -- it was messy. I said it was a whitelash in part. I also said it was a bunch of other stuff too, that it was revolt against the elites. I said that it was an overthrow of the pollsters. But I said it was a whitelash in part.

STELTER: So I'm actually guilty of it. I will talk about that.

People hear one thing, they seize on it. They don't listen to the fuller context of the answer.

JONES: Yes.

And so my heart breaks because I'm somebody who, throughout the campaign, was reaching out to Trump voters. I worked with conservatives and right-wingers like Newt Gingrich and others on issues of criminal justice and opioids.

STELTER: Right.

JONES: But suddenly I have become the poster child for calling all the Trump people racists, when, in fact, I don't think they're all racists, but they tolerated racism. And that's a problem.

And so that's a messy -- I'm not saying you're a racist, necessarily, but I'm saying you tolerated it. You didn't reject it. And that hurts my feelings.

STELTER: And I have got people on Twitter right now during the segment saying, you're biased, you're biased. But that's the point, is that you come from a point of view, but you're trying to reach other people with different points of view...


STELTER: Let's get to the point about whether this is a new civil war or whether we're heading toward a new civil war.

Do you feel like that's where we are? Because there are days where I feel like we're in a cold civil war.

JONES: I'm very afraid of where this thing is going.

STELTER: What's this thing?

JONES: The country, this debate. Rather than people feeling that, OK, Republicans, you have got to do some homework now, you can't be happy that the vast majority of people of color in every state voted against you, that's got to be a problem for you, no, it's like, don't talk about race. You're a race baiter.

But the numbers are there. You can't have the Democrats just saying, well, listen, it's all that Trump people are terrible, when, in fact, Obama voters switched.

Listen, what really happened, 100,000 people in three states swung the election. And many of them had voted for Barack Obama. Now, certainly, there were some who were racially motivated. But what about those you cannot argue were racially motivated? The Democrats don't want to talk about them. And that's what the messy truth is about.

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