It’s been just over three weeks since Van Jones nearly broke down in tears live on CNN during the network’s Election Night coverage, and he seemed to be in a better mood when he sat down with the hosts of The View Thursday morning. But that doesn’t mean he’s any less fired up about the consequences of electing Donald Trump as president.
Jones began by attempting to explain exactly what he meant just hours after the election was called for Trump when he called the results a “whitelash against a changing country” and against a black president. He told the hosts that he was not trying to paint all 60 million-something people who voted for Trump as “racially hateful” people.
“It would be unfair to the Trump voters to say that they’re all racist,” he said. “But to say that the alt-right and the neo-Nazis that were celebrating weren’t a part, that would be unfair to the rest of America.”
Jones said he found fault in both political parties. The Democrats, who used to be the “champions of the poor and the downtrodden” have let a small group of “elitist-sounding, snobby people” take over the message. Meanwhile, Republicans “see themselves as the party of color blind individualism and that's beautiful, but they have somehow created a space for a small number of racially hateful people to come in their party, and they've got to deal with that too.”
When co-host Jedediah Bila pushed back, not understanding how a racist country could have elected Barack Obama as president for two terms, Jones said, “The majority of white people voted against Obama both times.” He added, “We keep patting ourselves on the back and saying we elected a black president.” Pointing to himself, he said, “No, we elected a black president.”
On Election Night, Jones spoke of the parents who were putting their kids to bed that night “afraid of breakfast,” not knowing how to explain Trump’s victory. “Part of the thing that was hard is that my kids were in L.A. watching me on TV,” he said Thursday morning. “So the first time they see their daddy after this thing happened, I'm not there with them…. So when I say it's hard to be a parent and I’m raising my children not to be bigots and not to be bullies and to do their homework and be prepared and now have to explain this, I was talking to them. I wasn't talking to America. I was talking to my children. And I’m a father first.”
As Joy Behar then proceeded to read off the resumes of Trump’s most controversial cabinet picks, Jones shifted nervously for comic effect before saying, “Give him a chance?”
Then, he told them how he really feels, explaining that Trump appointing Steve Bannon as his chief strategist would have been like Obama making the former head of Louis Farrakhan's Final Call publication his top advisor.
“This is important to me because people keep saying we have to give him a chance, and we do have to give him a chance, but we don't have to give him a pass on everything,” Jones said. “We don't have to give him a pass on the things they never gave Obama a pass on.”