Rebuilding The American Dream

Excerpts from “Rebuild the Dream” by Van Jones

The time has come to turn things right side up again and declare that America’s honest, hard-working middle class is too big to fail. The aspirations of our low-income, struggling, and marginalized communities are too big and important to fail. The hopes of our children are too big to fail. The American Dream itself is too big to fail.

And we are not going to let these things fail.

Of course, it will not be easy to stop the dream killers. Tax policy that burdens working families and gives the biggest breaks to the super- rich has helped to keep more and more of our national wealth locked in the private safes of the top one percent. This alarming economic polarization, combined with the constant flow of good-paying jobs overseas, threatens to end our status as a middle class nation. Too many of our big banks and largest corporations are behaving in a manner that is both irresponsible and unpatriotic. Their conduct makes it that much worse for the many patriotic and responsible businesses — especially small businesses — that follow the rules and provide good jobs to their employees. . . .

There is reason for hope. The United States remains a rich nation— the wealthiest and most inventive in the history of the world. Global competition and technological advances pose challenges for American workers, but we should always remember that the proverbial pie is bigger than ever today—and still growing. As a nation, we are getting richer; our GDP is still greater than it has ever been. The problem is not that the pie is shrinking; it is that working families are taking home smaller slices of it, as wealth and income are concentrated upward. It will take smart policy, better business practices, and community-driven innovation, but we still have the power to reclaim, reinvent, and renew the American Dream. . . .

America is still the best idea in the world. The American middle class is still her greatest invention. This book is dedicated to the proposition that—with the right strategy and a little bit of luck—the movement of the 99% can preserve and strengthen them both.

“Rebuild the Dream” (Nation Books, 2012) is the latest book by Van Jones, a former Obama White House advisor and member of Appalachian Voices’ advisory board. In it, Jones shares his journey from grassroots outsider to White House insider and proposes ways to get the U.S. economy working for everyday citizens. Published in April 2012, the book is on The New York Times bestseller list and is available at and bookstores nationwide.


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