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The Van Jones Show
The Van Jones Show. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 21, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VAN JONES, HOST, CNN: Good evening and welcome to The Van Jones Show. Look, this week in Washington DC was just another one for the books, all right? We got new questions about potential unethical conversation between President Trump and a foreign leader.
New deep state conspiracy theories going around. The President's closest allies now are stonewalling Congress and Rudy Giuliani is contradicting himself on national television. In other words par for the course same as always, pretty much more the same.
But luckily tonight, we're going to give you a break. We got a breath of fresh air for you. The crowd-surfing, line-dancing, 2020 hopeful who wants to get every adult American $1000 a month, Andrew Yang is here.
Andrew Yang. Yang Yang, oh so happy. Awesome. We're going to hear from a new generation of leaders that are working to protect the planet, they're mobilizing millions of people all around the world. I'm a very excited to have the climate youth leadership here also.
You've probably seen this video, all right? Look at that, so cute. And tonight, we're going to meet the tiny stars of that viral sensation. It's given me so much hope, so many people so much hope. These little babies, they're best friends, Finnegan and Maxwell are here tonight.
I can't wait to meet them. Oh, it's going to be a great show. So let's get started get right into it, please welcome to the Van Jones show, 2020 Presidential candidate and Andrew Yang in the house.
Oh, I love it. I love it. My man, beautiful. Oh my God. Grab a seat. Listen man, it is an honor to see you. You have completely shaken up the conversation bringing in all these new thoughts and ideas. Before we get to that, back to the nonsense for one second. This whistleblower controversy, how concerned are you?
Lots of allegations, lots of questions. How concerned are you that the White House might be trying to stifle this whistle blower who's trying to tell us something about something that's happening in the administration?
ANDREW YANG, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm - I'm deeply concerned but unfortunately we've seen this before and thousands of verification that Donald Trump is Donald Trump. In some ways, it's disappointing but not surprising. My job is to beat him at the ballot box in 2020 if he's still there.
JONES: Yes. Well listen, let's talk about that how are you going to do it? You have such an unorthodox message, unorthodox style. How are you going to beat Donald Trump?
YANG: I like math. And I'm one of two democratic candidates in the field that 10 percent or more of Donald Trump voters said that they would support. So if I am the Democratic nominee, we win the whole thing.
JONES: You and I spent time on the west coast. The west coast, a lot stuff that you're talking about for the future is already here. The demographic changes are already there but also the split between the rich and poor.
JONES: That's kind of giving you a little bit a leg up in your policy proposals, Universal Basic Income. Tell us a little bit more. Such a big conversation California, not a big conversation any place else. What is UBI and why will it work?
YANG: Well, if you've heard anything about me and my campaign, you heard that I want to give every American adult $1000 a month and this seems far out or futuristic to some but this is a deeply American idea.
JONES: It's - almost.
YANG: Yes, it does. But then Thomas Paine was for it. Martin Luther king championed it and it is what he was fighting for me was assassinated in 1968 and one state has almost had it in place for almost 40 years. Alaska which gives $1000 to $2000 in oil money to every Alaskan every single year.
So what I'm saying to the American people is that what oil is to Alaska, technology is to the entire country because we're in an era where technology is going to do more and more of the work and you have trillion dollar tech companies like Amazon literally paying zero in taxes and that's not going to work for the American people.
JONES: Yes, so look, I mean part of the thing is I think people want though to work and I think there's a fear that if you're just going to be passing out checks to people, that they're going to get the check but they're still going to be alone, they're going to be isolated.
What do you say to people who say people don't just want to check. They want a job.
YANG: I'm going to ask the people here in the studio audience, how many of you think that if you're getting $1000 a month, you would work harder? Look at that, virtually everyone. How many of you think that you would just hit the sofa and never get up?
JONES: We're on television, we can't raise our hands.
YANG: But if everyone watching this reflects on that, no one's going to quit their job on a $1000 a month unless they're in a truly abusive or exploitative situation at which point they probably should be able to leave.
So this is going to free us up to do more of the work that we want to do naturally. It's also going to recognize the kind of work that my wife does at home with our two boys every single day.
One of our boys is autistic and raising kids is the hardest most challenging work there is yet right now we value it at 0.
JONES: What about people who say that it's going to just you know, create a bunch of inflation? In other words if everybody gets a 1000 Bucks, isn't $1000 the new zero, of the inflation and all that up.
YANG: A couple of data points on this. You all remember voting for the $4 trillion bailout of Wall Street during a crisis?
YANG: No. Yes, that's what happened and there was not rampant inflation. If you look at our costs right now inflation centered in - in three areas: housing, education and health care. If we had $1000 a month, most of our consumer products would stay the same price and I have separate plans to try and curb any price rises in those three areas which unfortunately are three areas that make us miserable. Housing, education and health care.
But those areas are not getting more expensive because we have money in our pockets. Unfortunately it's the opposite.
JONES: So - so how does your policy deal with that?
YANG: Well, I have separate plans to try and curb inflation in those three areas but I'm happy to say this $12000 a year that we'd all be entitled to, what would we spend it on in real life? Day care, little league signups, car repairs you've been putting off, the occasional night out.
The money would just blow right back into our communities. We can create a trickle up economy and this would actually work on like the garbage that you know, the trickle-down theory was over the last number of years.
JONES: Yes. Is this like in your mind like a panacea for everything. There are special problems that special groups have. Don't you need special solutions for say African-Americans, for women, for other groups? Some people say Yang wants to do this instead of having a racial justice initiative or gender justice initiative. How do you respond to that?
YANG: I agree that we need much more than this foundation or floor. I see the freedom dividend as a base to build on. It's like the floor of $1000 a month where we can meet our basic needs but that doesn't solve the problems. Then you have to start working on racial inequities, gender inequities. We need to build a house on top of the foundation.
JONES: What's an Andrew Yang style racial justice initiative on top of the freedom dividend?
YANG: On the criminal justice side first, I want to legalize marijuana nationwide. I want to go a step further. I want to pardon everyone who's in jail for a non-violent marijuana related offense on April 20th.
JONES: You got your first round of applause. We might have some non - violent drug offenders here.
YANG: I want to get rid of private prisons. It makes no sense to have motivation of profit on the other side. I want to get rid of a punitive cash bail system that essentially throws poor people in jail for being poor. I mean there are a bunch of structural problems that we can fix it and I'm happy to say most Americans on both sides of the aisle now agree that our current criminal justice system is not working.
JONES: Yes, absolutely. You know I because you have such a strong online presence, I mean, Yang-Yang is all over the internet, all over I mean it's just nuts so I decided I wanted to go online and get some questions and so let's hear from somebody who actually is not here in the audience but wants to get the question answered by you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Hi Andrew, I'm over 50. I know I don't look like it and I'm not worried about a robot taking off my job. My question for you is why should I and my fellow baby boomers support you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YANG: Well, the problem is that I'm trying to address the problems that got Donald Trump elected, that we automated away millions of manufacturing jobs and that those changes are now going to affect other types of workers. It seems like he's not worried about that.
But what he may be worried about is that boomers are facing a retirement crisis where half of aging Americans will never actually be able to retire and so we need to put in place again, this foundation that will help Americans retire with dignity because we do not want to be a country where frankly, people are working in convenience stores till the day they die in order to make ends meet.
We're better than this. In my mind Americans that have worked for decades have the right to retire with dignity.
JONES: How does it feel for you to be I mean, you are not a well-known person a couple of years ago.
YANG: No, who Andrew Yang? I know. Quite recently, I know. JONES: How does it feel?
YANG: It feels really great because we're waking up to the fact that there's nothing stopping a majority of citizens of a democracy from improving our own lives. Actually that's the only way it's going to happen. If you go to yang2020.com, you'll see I have over 150 policies trying to solve all sorts of problems and a lot of them we can get done very, very quickly after I'm President.
JONES: Well, do you think people are taking you seriously enough? I mean part of the thing is that, you're such an unlikely candidate, that people you know they're not shooting at you. Even Donald Trump doesn't have a bad name for you yet. Is that - is that is that a good thing or a bad thing?
YANG: Well Donald Trump hasn't messed with me online because he knows actually I'm better at the internet than he. And though I started out an unlikely candidate, I'm now 6th in national polls.
YANG: I made every debate and we are one of only a couple of campaigns that have been consistently growing.
Democrats around the country are trying to figure out who's the best candidate to take on Donald Trump. When they realize that I'm peeling off hundreds of thousands of disaffected Trump voters as well as independents and libertarians in addition to Democrats, they're going to realize that I am the best candidate to be Donald Trump in 2020.
JONES: Yes you know, help me understand a couple of things here. First of all, on the one hand, you are growing but online a lot of your people thought there's a conspiracy to keep you invisible. I deleted one tweet with your name in it and I got just killed. Like why are you trying to erase it?
YANG: Let yang speak.
JONES: Yes. Do you feel like there's a reluctance on the part of the media to give you your opportunities? You feel like you're being made invisible in anyway?
YANG: Big picture. The media's treatment of us I think it's been colored by the fact that they just didn't know what to do with me and you know and I'm not going to knock them for that but now it's indisputable that I'm one of the top six or seven candidates in the race, that we're going to be here the whole time, that we have the resources to play all the way through 2020.
But I'm happy to say now the media's woken up to that fact.
JONES: Yes, they see the stuff. We already have a business dude in the White House.
YANG: Please don't compare me to that guy.
JONES: I'm just saying, somebody's got to say it to you man. You're a business dude, you got no political experience, you're coming in and making big promises. Why shouldn't we be terrified? This - I got PTSD from the last one.
YANG: So Donald Trump gives entrepreneurs a bad name and real entrepreneurs like myself regard him as a marketing charlatan and a fraud and not a real builder. He certainly doesn't represent all of us and also I'm the last person who would say I'm going to run government like a business because that's nonsense.
They're very different things and running the government is much more similar to what I did running a national non-profit that I founded where you have to have a vision and then activate energy and excitement around that vision and try and build consensus. That's much, much more analogous to what I will do as President.
JONES: That's great. Listen, we got a lot more to talk about with you when we get back. First of all, we could be talking to the first Asian-American President ever. Now what would that mean for the country? Also he actually wants to sit down and talk to the fired Saturday Night Live comedian who made disparaging remarks about him and Asian people. Why does he want to do that? All that and more when we get back.
JONES: I am back with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang in the house. Hey listen, I want to talk with you very seriously. There's this guy Shane Gillis, comedian, Saturday Night Live. Got caught on a podcasting saying disparaging things about Asian- Americans, disparaging things about you personally.
Everybody says this guy should be fired, this guy should be canceled. And you did it.
YANG: Well, the first reaction I had was obviously hostility, confusion, anger and so I did what came naturally to me which was I sat down with my wife and actually watched some of Shane's comedy just to try and get a sense as to who he was and where he was coming from and after I watched some of his work for let's say, 45 minutes or so, I looked at my wife and we talked about it.
And then we both thought that he was not evil or malignant or really hateful and actually advocating you know, for any kind of racist ideology. That he struck me as a still figuring it out comedian from central Pennsylvania who told some terrible and offensive jokes and that to me did not rise to a level where he should lose his job.
YANG: And so - and as someone who is personally actually called out then I thought well, if anyone should be offended, it's me right and if I don't think that he should lose his job, then I should probably say something to that effect because maybe it would make a difference.
JONES: Well, maybe you haven't lived in United States for the last year or two but that's not normal. First of all, he did get fired despite your speaking up for him but we live in a time now where is it we have what we call it you know, cancel culture man.
And if you do something wrong, you're supposed to be out here and it could have been 5 minutes ago or it could have been 2030 years ago. Do you have a view that we're maybe have gone too far in the direction of the lack of grace or lack of forgiveness.
YANG: Although my campaign slogan is "Humanity First."
YANG: We're all people, we're all human, we all make mistakes, we're all fallible and I'm new to politics but I certainly would hate to be judged by something I did 25 years ago. You know you passed out some statement, happily no one was paying any attention.
But I think that our standards have become unfair and we become unduly vindictive and punitive and one of the things that we benefit from is remembering that we're all human and we can forgive.
One of the things a friends said to me is that, let's say someone makes a mistake and then we turn on them and say, hey, you should be fired from your job, you should be canceled and then what happens two months later, we move on but that person still doesn't have a job or that person's life is still been changed irrevocably.
So to me those things don't necessarily balance out.
JONES: But what do you think about Justin Trudeau? You know black face, all that kind of stuff, he came out, he apologized. The hold him to a higher standard because he's an elected official or do you have that same humanity first, grace across the board. How do you think about that stuff?
YANG: I mean that's a tough one in part because I'm not black and so him wearing black face, I would actually refer to someone who has more direct experience with that form of racism. He also was an elected official.
JONES: I'll tell you. People I get mad at me. To me, if you did something say, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, it was stupid, if you apologize, then I don't care. In other words if you care about it, then I don't care. But if you don't hear about it, now I care, right?
Because if you're saying well, I did it and screw you and I can do what I want to do. Now I'm concerned but I do think that people should be able to apologize. Another issue has to do with how you break in with the African-American community and I got a question online for you about that. I want you to answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think your policy platform is so transformative
yet so many people haven't even heard about you yet. So I just want to hear what are your next steps to make sure you secure that black vote and we win this nomination. Yang Yang.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YANG: It's coming on platforms like this show. I just need to do the hard work to introduce myself to as many voters as possible, particularly people in communities like perhaps the black community that I don't know that much about me.
But if you dig in again, you find that my vision for the country is inclusive and will be transformative to our way of life.
JONES: You know when Obama came in as first black President, you know I was raising two black boys, it was unbelievably powerful for them.
JONES: Have you thought about the fact, you would be our first Asian- American President? What do you think the impact on the country for that ceiling to get broken through?
YANG: I think that my becoming President would be another transformative moment for the country. Certainly growing up as the son of immigrants myself, I never imagined I would be in this seat or in this race but now that I'm here, I believe that I can help move our country forward and to the extent that makes Asian-Americans very happy and proud, that makes me very happy and proud.
JONES: Yes. You know, you you're raising two boys. You mentioned that one is on the spectrum with regard to autism. What have you learned from him? What has he taught you in your journey together?
YANG: I learned so much from my son and when he was a little bit younger, we didn't realize he was autistic and we were first time parents and so you're trying to figure out you know, what what's normally. Like is this normal? I have to say for me and this is probably true for many parents like you relive your own childhood a little bit.
And so the fact that he is autistic, there are some of the things he's experiencing that actually does bring me back and make me think like wow, now I think that I had some of the same approached to the world that he does and I'm really eager to help him thrive and prosper.
JONES: Yes. Being a parent and kind of being in a political environment like we're in, we really need folks like you. I just wanted to say like, your character, your integrity, you're just a beautiful human being.
YANG: Thanks man. JONES: And I really appreciate who you are. I really do, I really do. Andrew Yang, now listen, you're going to be hearing a lot more from this guy, I guarantee you. Now when we come back, a key group of voters that could help decide the 2020 election. Generation Z.
Question, are they energized? What do they want in the candidate? You're going to get a chance to hear from these first time voters when we get back. Also I know you watch that viral video of the little kids hugging on the internet. These little munchkins and nuggets are right here in the studio. That's them right here. You're going to meet them when we get back.
JONES: The Democratic candidates are just clamouring to get the youth vote. They're doing YouTube interviews, they're doing podcasts, they're taking selfie, they're pitching plans for free college tuition, all kind of stuff. This week, Bernie Sanders spoke to college students at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you have friends out there and I know you who think the political system is bullshit, tell them that instead of just complaining, they must get involved into the political process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Look, I agree with that. Now, young voter turnout hit historic highs in the 2018 midterm elections, that's what actually that whole big blue wave but now Democrats and conservatives both are working to energizer the millennial and GenZ voters for 2020.
I want to see what was working so I spoke to a group of first time voters. All these are college students from across the political spectrum right where Bernie was, right at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. They had a lot to say, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: How many of you are excited about the 2020 election? Look at that. Barely up. Barely up.
SKYE MCCOLLUM, CO-CHAIR, YOUNG DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS AT NC STATE: I think I'm very excited to see Trump out of the White House but I'm also not super- duper enthusiastic about what I'm seeing from all of the Democratic candidates right now.
Right now with Biden leading a lot of the polls, I'm kind of scared. CHRIS SUGGS, PRESIDENT, UNC BLACK STUDENT MOVEMENT: I really think
what Skye just said that there haven't been - there hasn't been a Democratic candidate yet who's really but a lot of enthusiasm for me. So I'm you know, very much excited to see Trump go, I don't know what that man to serve another term as President of the United States.
I don't believe he represents the values of this country. However there hasn't been a Democratic candidate that's really energized me and I believe other young people who just--
JONES: We have 3000 Democratic - you say not one of them? You can't find one you like?
SUGGS: Yes, it's really unfortunate. They're all kind of talking in circles, I believe.
JOSEPH BUCKNER, CHAIRMAN, UNC COLLEGE REPUBLICANS: I'm pumped as ever for President Trump. I think that he does appeal to the young conservative because the number one issue facing college students after we graduate, we need to work first to go into and a strong economy with lower taxes, with more money in our pockets, being able to actually achieve the American dream with a strong economy is our number one issue.
LIZZIE BOND, COLLEGE OUTREACH DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN WOMEN FOR PROGRESS: As I see it now, there's no viable option for a young reform minded conservative like myself.
JONES: Is that because Trump doesn't appeal to you?
BOND: No, he hasn't appealed for me since the start. It's been really difficult to see the way in which the Republican Party has suffered under his leadership.
JONATHAN TAO, TREASURER, DUKE POLITICAL UNION: I think I'm open to voting for President Trump but only on the condition really that the Democratic base can get a reasonable moderate candidate out.
You know on the third base stage, I think, it's really it's Joe Biden that's a voice for moderation. Most others are trying to out compete each other on who can be more progressive on what in my view.
SUGGS: Vice President Biden just isn't that person. He aligns so moderately and trying to strike down the middle and almost sounds like one more Republican and there was a joke on Twitter the other night. He was the best Republican on the Democratic debate stage.
JONES: What has Trump done that made you so mad?
SUGGS: This man has a history of racism long before his time as a politician even during his time as a real estate developer in New York City. He's made some very misogynist and racist remarks that I definitely feel you know are not the things I can agree with or would like to see in the White House.
JONES: How does that make you feel when you hear that the President of Unites States is a racist.
BUCKNER: I mean, I think it's a tactic used by the left when they run out of options for debate or if they think they're losing, I think they'll just call you or label you a racist.
MCCOLLUM: I see President Trump's policies as racist. His administration is enacting racist policies.
JONES: Like what?
MCCOLLUM: Like trying to build a border wall on our southern border that is disproportionately going to hurt people who do not look like you and me.
BUCKNER: I think that a strong - I mean stronger border and better immigration policy isn't in itself racist. I think that we have a border as of now and fixing the areas that are broken along our southern border are very important.
BOND: But the problem is that the President has used this rhetoric is inflammatory. It's frankly embarrassing for reasonable American to think that we need to enforce our borders. The wall, in it I think it does have racist connotations behind it.
TAO: I completely agree with what you just said but this is where I want to outline what the problem is specifically on the Democratic side, what was it? 8 of the 10 people raised their hands when they said they wanted to decriminalize border crossings and it is problematic in the sense that no one should be thrown six months in federal prison and then be forced to pay a fine just because they crossed the border illegally.
But at the same time it is a crime to cross the border illegally.
CHARLIE HATCH, CLASS OF 2023, MEREDITH COLLEGE: Were you all born in the United States?
HATCH: I was not born in the United States. I'm from Guatemala and so I have to pay very close attention to federal law every day.
JONES: So you were adopted by American citizens, you're born in Guatemala. Is that right? And at one point, your parents had to sit you down and talk to you about what might happen if there was a raid, is that right?
HATCH: Yes, so the increase in ICE raids was crazy. I would see on social media, be careful ICE is here almost all of the time and so just going somewhere can be terrifying because yes, I'm a United States citizen but they will try so hard to get me just because I'm brown.
And so I have to remember what to say. That I'm here legally and pray to God that they'll listen.
TAO: You can reconcile these two desires, right? The desire to have borders and also treat people well within those borders. It requires moderation in terms of rhetoric which is not something that we're seeing today, I think on either side.
JONES: Free college. I would imagine if I was in college, free college would sound great. You wouldn't turn it down. What's wrong with free college?
BUCKNER: I think--
JONES: You had free high school.
BUCKNER: Well, now our taxes went towards that.
JONES: That's fine. Help me understand. I have so much fun to observe about this.
JONES: Do you think free college is socialist?
BUCKNER: I think it's toward socialism.
JONES: Public fifth grade is not socialism. Public twelfth grade is not socialism but public thirteenth grade is communism. Help me understand that.
TAO: I'd like I'd like to jump in. Higher education particularly college is highly regressive as an institution so something like 10 percent of all college graduates actually come from bottom quartile of income. So when we're talking about making something like this free, I think Americans need to understand that who's actually benefiting here.
And very often it's the middle class, middle upper class and the upper class. Elizabeth Warren has done a good job of addressing this somewhat in saying that OK, well these policies may cap at the top 5 percent of that sort of thing, there's nuance to this.
The problem starts earlier. We have to address systemic inequalities in education before college because very often these inequities, they accumulate and by the time people reach college, it's too late.
JONES: Can somebody make the argument that because college is so expensive, that's why rich people go.
MCCOLLUM: I would say that what exactly what you said. The rich people are already going to college because it's an option for them. There's so many people in this country, that the way the place that they're raised in, the economic situation they're raised in, it's never even something they consider because they know it's way too expensive.
How much is tuition in our university?
TAO: Something like 76K.
MCCOLLUM: Yes. When it's one of the top universities in the world, Duke is one of the top universities in the world but it's $76,000 a year. Now I go to a State university where it's a lot cheaper, it's a lot like my tuition I think it's like $5000 a semester, tuition wise.
But I know person people personally who have had to drop out not because they didn't want to because they had to go work, because they literally could not afford their tuition and that is why so many people are dropping out. That is why there's so many pressures. Young people in college pressure should be graduating with a good academics.
Shouldn't be how can I afford my tuition bill.
BUCKNER: So I think we're only talking about a traditional 4 year college as it's the only option where it's not. I think we need to destigmatize vocational trade school.
MCCOLLUM: I agree.
BUCKNER: Two year universities because they are very good options and they have graduation rates with people who go straight into the workforce while having a living wage so I think that instead of trying to figure out how we're going to raise everyone's taxes and pay everyone's debts, I think we need to destigmatize these different universities, different options for people so that they can go and be able to have successful life through that way.
JONES: So there's a lot of dialogue, debate, discussion in on this generation and it's really you know passionate, it's really - really inspiring. When you hear us talking about the young voter, when you hear us talking about young people, GenZ, what are we getting wrong?
BUCKNER: I think they're just looking to score us, to win our votes, to pander to us. I think they're treating us like children and it's time they wake up. I think people have quoted us the largest voting eligible population for the 2020 election as well as possibly the highest turnout and I think it's time that we are brought to the table with both sides with our ideas.
SUGGS: I finally agree with you on something. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Possibly all the young people are just consider you know the future of this country, we're not as present active members and participants in our democracy.
It's very seldom, very rare that we're consulted in a political campaigns so they were engaged by city council members or governors or our federal representatives and it's time for that to change.
HATCH: We're treated as children in very young and they're going to understand one day and being told that constantly is ridiculous.
We're able to vote and stop trying to use us as a photo op you know. Like listen to us and actually sit down and have a conversation and not try and steer us into a certain way of thinking.
MCCOLLUM: I'd simply say get ready for change like we're going to change things, like we're going to make change happen, we're going to further the progression of American history, we're going to keep progressing, we're going to keep expanding. That's what's going to happen and get ready for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Look, as you can see the country's young people, they're smart, they want to be heard, they're also leading some of the most important issues in colleges around the world. When we come back, you're going to hear from three young activists who are leading the fight to save our planet. What is that message which has grown folks, that's going to be when we get back.
JONES: The young activists have proven that they're very, very serious about fighting this climate crisis. They're organizing massive strikes, they're suing government, they're creating policy, they are demanding that leaders pay attention. Yesterday students from around the world were out protesting as a part of Greta Thunberg's Fridays for the Future Movement.
And next week you're going to have activists and world leaders getting together for the United Nations Global Climate Summit. My next guest or helping to lead this fight. Please welcome to the Van Jones show Jamie Margolin, she is the founder and co-executive director of Zero hour. We have Rebecca Freitag who is the U.N. youth delegate on sustainable development in Germany and also Cynthia Leung, she is a climate activist right here in New York.
Give them a big round of applause. Next leadership doing it upright. Look, you got all these pictures of marching, all sorts of stuff happening all around the world. Are you more encouraged or more discouraged?
JAMIE MARGOLIN, CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVIST: Well, right now it's a combination of both. I'm feeling more encouraged because as someone who's been fighting for climate justice for about four years now, I've seen - I've kind of seen the tipping point. They were reaching the tipping point because more and more young people are on the streets more and more people are organizing.
And the public pressure is building so that these corporations and governments are now realizing that they can't go on much longer, destroying all life on earth and they can go on much longer choosing corporate money over young people's lives.
JONES: Now you're coming from overseas. What was it like coming from Germany to the United States where people may not even acknowledge that climate change is real? What's that - what's that culture shock like? REBECCA FREITAG, U.N. YOUTH DELEGATE, GERMANY: Indeed, especially the mountains of plastic that you find here, it's like so much backward. It feels like sometimes it's more developing than in other developing countries.
JONES: Wow. Now you are one of the front line activist right here in New York City. Do you find that this movement that's growing, that's building toward climate justice, is it inclusive enough to have enough young people, enough people of color? What's your view of this movement is growing?
CYNTHIA LEUNG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: So what I see. I definitely think that there needs to be more people of color in the movement. especially since being an Asian-American in white America, I understand that we need more young people but I feel like we also to specify young people of color too.
Because although I do see there's a lot of young people in the front line of the movement, I don't see people of color, I don't see young people of color in the movement. In a way this movement is a political revolution and another thing is that we need to educate people on knowing who you're voting for and actually understanding the policies for climate that the candidates are talking about.
JONES: Yes, absolutely and you know, and Jamie, you've been doing that for quite some time and you had to stand up to some Republicans face to face.
MARGOLIN: Yes, yes.
JONES: Talk a little bit about that experience testifying in front of Congress.
MARGOLIN: So yesterday I testified before Congress alongside Greta Thunberg and Vick Barret and another young activist and I made my case about you know what the emotional toll that the climate crisis takes on me as a young person and many of my peers just what it's like to grow up with that.
And I also talked to them about the science. I talked to them about how the climate crisis is not just this issue that popped up like a daisy. It's the culmination of root systems of oppression that have been building up for centuries.
It's the result of colonialism, it's the result of a lot of racist systems and how we have to get to the roots of that and also address our consumers took ways and a lot of the Republicans are very mad about that and this one guy waived around this paper. I don't even know what he said but he was like well, I'm not going to take action because China isn't taking action and so why do we have to do anything if China isn't doing that.
And then I was like excuse me, how are you going to look your kid in the eye and say sorry, I mean I realize that your planet is unlivable now and that I realize that you're going to go through so many horrible floods and so much violence and danger but I mean that other country wasn't doing it so I don't really feel like it.
JONES: What do you want him to do and what do you want to hear?
MARGOLIN: I want him to understand that first of all that the first step to getting out of the hole is to stop digging. We need to be completely transform off of fossil fuels to renewable energies. We need to be rapidly transforming in a way that is just because the climate crisis is devastating but it's also a chance to be able to correct the wrongs in our history and our society.
Because the climate crisis comes out of colonialism, comes out of all these extractive practices, if we really solve this right, then we can actually solve most other issues that plague us. We can really address you know the racism in this country. We can address poverty and healthcare and all these other issues through solving the climate crisis right.
We need something like a Green New Deal that addresses all fields.
JONES: So you - yes, you can get a round of applause. You want a comprehensive solution. What about you? What about you? I mean you - you have leaders around the world, they're getting pushed by your generation. What do you want them to say and what do you want them to hear from you?
FREITAG: Well, first of all, I want to remind them on their responsibility. The leaders of today, actually they're supposed to govern according to the majority, right? Like to the will of the many and not to the will of some profit taking individuals and this is the will of the many and it's not only us young people I guess, it's also so many other people of society who really want to see climate action now.
We have the solutions and now we don't want to hear any more boring speeches or excuses or distractions like responsibilities on the individual. No. We need disruptive measures and we need them now.
JONES: The fact that you are willing to speak up for the people who are getting hit first and worst means so much. Your leadership means so much. Give a round of applause to these young ladies.
Now coming up, it is the hug scene around the world. You're going to meet the boys who are warming are hearts all over the country and they give me so much hope. They're going to be right here when we come back. Here they are. They're so cute. When we get back.
JONES: All right, so usually we're so caught up talking about partisan politics and violence and division, devastation. Not now luckily we got two little boys from New York who recently reminded the entire country what love and friendship is all about. Watch this. So beautiful. Now those are two year old Finnegan and Maxwell. They're best friends and they could not contain their excitement to see each other. Both boys and their dads are here and I can barely contain my excitement to see them. Welcome to the Van Jones show, Maxwell and Finnigan and their dads, Michael and Dan.
Look at that. Hello guys. Come on up here. Look peoples. Free toys. Yes, we got some toys for you if you want to. Give a round of applause to these people. Hello little person. How are you? Want to talk about the tariffs?
Listen, these guys are our best friends, is that correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
JONES: Tell us a little bit about how they became such good friends.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we have a favorite restaurant in our neighborhood. We both live about a block away from it and when we were finishing up our brunch, my wife and I with Finnegan and they came in and had to sit at the other end of the big table and so we just got talking because we had kids and then our favorite servers knew them in and they knew us and so before we left, we got the phone number and we hung out definitely to that week and then we went up to their country house.
JONES: What are you saying? Helicopter? Yes. Can you say hi? Fire truck? You're freezing? Oh, look at that. So let me ask a simple questions. Do they know that they are famous?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so. We were at the airport and the TSA agents, all recognize them and it was just, it's just been very odd scene you know walking around with a toddler that's famous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's weird that they get spotted on the street and people ask for photos and you're just like, wow.
JONES: Why do you think they have struck such a deep chord in this country right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think with the climate of the country and you know the world really with all the hatred and racism and you know just the angry - the anger that's going on right now between everyone just to see just maybe a little hope for the future, a little inspiration.
You know this is how it should be and you know and it's not which is set.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I mean I've definitely said to some people that it's kind of a shame it went viral. I mean I love that millions of people love both of our boys and I mean I love hearing that and you know, it seems to have made a lot of people happy but this should just be normal.
JONES: Yes, it should be normal. Two beautiful kids like each other. They play.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were just being themselves like they hug all the time, like it wasn't anything - like they hold hands walking on the street and they dance together and they get in trouble together.
JONES: You're a teacher?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a teacher.
JONES: And what did your high school students say when they this all happened and this suddenly became one of the biggest videos in the world?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So they said, oh my God, that's your son, I've seen him and then we had a really good conversation about it. So I work in a school that's - That is Finnegan.
JONES: He said that's Finnegan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work at a school that's themed around the idea of social justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think most of my students if not all would identify themselves as students of color and so we had a really good conversation on that Tuesday that it really went viral about why did it go viral and they said well, because it's two kids hugging?
I said, is it? Is that why it went viral and they - you know we talked about a little more and they said it's because it's a black boy and a white boy hugging. Why is that you know--
JONES: Why is that such a big?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Such a big deal and so.
JONES: But it really, really is. From a parenting point of view, how important is it to go out of your way to find you know kids from different backgrounds, that type of stuff, is that something with a value of yours, just happened to be that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just happened to be that way. Really like - I mean, not for us anyway. I mean we met at a restaurant called Akela and we just really had a connect, like we bonded pretty much.
You know it's hard to find parents that have the similar likes that you do with kids that are the same age. So you know, honestly they didn't really--
JONES: Wait, wait. Oh Maxwell. That's awesome. What message do you have? Right now you've got the spotlight on you. People watch all around the world, all around the country. What message do you have as a dad and do you have for dads - for people in these times?
[19:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just show love to one another, to be nice. I mean we didn't try to get our boys to do that, we wouldn't try to - about race or any other thing. It was just that we like them, they're our friends. They're friends and that's really it and that's really all it should be about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean it should matter anything, you know sexual orientation, color, religion, just - it just shouldn't matter. Like this is how all children should be raised. You know, hatred is taught and these--
JONES: And so is love. Hatred is taught and so is love. Give a round of applause to these beautiful, beautiful kids. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you having here. Now listen, before we go, I do want to acknowledge the passing of a dear friend of mine, Alyssa Swidler. She loved kids just like this. She also worked to bring people together, unbelievable human being. May her memory be a blessing. I want to thank everyone for watching, I'm Van Jones. Peace and love to one another.