Liberals are afflicted with tea party envy. According to leftist political theory, populist movements–grassroot uprisings of the masses–are supposed to advance the agenda of the left. But in America most populist movements lean right. So Democrats are trying to organize a tea party of their own:
At last weekend’s Netroots Nation gathering in Minneapolis, liberal activists expressed frustration that they lacked the political power or media focus given to the conservative tea-party movement. Former White House environmental official Van Jones is hoping to change that with a new political effort dubbed “The American Dream Movement.”
Organizers are hoping to emulate the the success of the tea party, which became a significant force in the 2010 midterms, uniting like-minded people across the country who were previously uninvolved in politics or participating locally but not at the national level.
They hope to motivate unemployed veterans, struggling homeowners and other alienated Americans who are angry at Republicans’ desire to drastically cut government spending in Washington and collective bargaining rights for state employees in places like Wisconsin. And to lure those people simply struggling to find a job while worried about their unemployment benefits ending.
“We think we can do what the tea party did,” Jones said in an interview with The Fix. “They stepped forward under a common banner, and everybody took them seriously. Polls suggest there are more people out there who have a different view of the economy, but who have not stepped forward yet under a common banner.”
Jones is a former Obama environmental adviser who resigned from the White House in 2009 amid controversy over his past activism. But he’s lauded in liberal circles for his charisma and organizing abilities.
“There’s a lot of organizational muscle behind the initiative, and Van is one of the most inspiring figures in the progressive movement, so I’m looking forward to these efforts, and they certainly come at a time when Republican overreach has primed progressives to take action” said Markos Moulitas, the founder of the liberal blog network Daily Kos.
Jones’ “Dream” movement will launch Thursday night with a rally in New York City. The Roots are performing; MoveOn.org, a well known liberal advocacy group, is co-sponsoring the gathering.
Populist movements organized from the top and funded by billionaires are kind of a contradiction in terms. Still, do you think the American Dream movement will catch on?