With the resignation of White House CEQ member and “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones over Labor Day weekend, the movement toward a green tech economy took more than just a symbolic hit. Take these three lessons from Jones’ resignation as signals that the Senate’s lift on energy/climate change legislation in the coming weeks may be even tougher than predicted:
Green as Granola…or Worse? We have seen time and again this year that in spite of further entrenchment with skeptics, the green movement is still not resonant in red state America. In fact, they see climate change and energy reform as hippie holdover hokum. The Jones resignation proves that in at least one way, the movement is still way too far out on the fringe. The idea that a White House-level official with Jones stature and profile could possibly have been affiliated with a 9/11-truth group — even in a peripheral way — demonstrates that a lot of the movement’s leadership comes from well outside the political mainstream.
How to Replace a Rock Star? From a messaging standpoint, Van Jones is irreplaceable for Obama. He – literally – wrote the book on “green-collar jobs” and no other single figure has the kind of bona fides in both the Mother Jones and Fast Company crowds. To his credit, Jones built that reputation as an early adopter of green economy ideals, and the impressive resume of vision and leadership that he cultivated in the Bay Area — especially his innovations on urban job training — looked ripe for nationwide scalability.
A Sign for the Senate? The White House has stumbled in selecting a core message around climate change for the general public, using the summer months to float trial balloons on approaches like national security that are thought to be more resonant with middle America. But, green jobs promised to be a central motif as Senate debate on a climate bill kicks off in September. While the bureaucrats running the programs in Washington will remain in place, Jones departure is a leadership upheaval at an inopportune time for the White House and the Senate progressives who will be carrying the water on the climate/energy bill.
[photo credit: Flickr]