Van Jones: Dems need to figure out how to talk to white men


    Van Jones discusses 'whitelash' comments


Van Jones discusses 'whitelash' comments 01:30

Story highlights

  • Van Jones is a political activist and CNN commentator
  • On Tuesday night he made news for saying Trump's victory was part of a "whitelash"

The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works on the podcast.

(CNN)One of the biggest challenges facing the Democratic Party is its unwillingness or inability to communicate with the white male voters who helped propel Donald Trump to victory in Tuesday's election, according to political activist Van Jones.

"The liberal imagination now ... doesn't have a place of honor for heterosexual white guys who are middle aged and vote Republican," Jones, who is a CNN commentator, told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files" podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
"They are somehow all the oppressor. They're all the enemy. They're all the other," Jones said. "They don't feel that way. They feel like they're on the downside of everything, economically and culturally, and don't know where to turn."
    The Democratic Party and its liberal allies haven't done an adequate job of speaking to these voters or to their concerns, Jones argued.
    "Somebody should have checked on those guys over the past 10, 20, 30 years," Jones said. "And yet nobody did but a guy named Donald Trump."
    In this emotional, hour-long conversation taped hours after Trump was elected president, Jones explained how he interpreted the cultural and economic forces that are animating politics in America and around the world.
    Saying the presidential election was a "whitelash," Jones described it as "a backlash from white workers, from struggling communities of white people, who feel both the economic pinch but also some cultural anxieties."
    Jones argued this could in some ways explain Britain's decision to leave the European Union, as well as the rise of economically populist and culturally nativist political parties in Europe.
    "And now we have this," Jones said of Trump's election.
    To hear the whole conversation with Jones, which also covered the emotion and fear he's heard from friends trying to process the election, his childhood in rural Tennessee and the important relationship he had with his father, and why he won't be running for public office any time soon, click on To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at