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As the grassroots sit-ins and marches that originated as Occupy Wall Street spread to other cities, Van Jones, lead evangelist for the American Dream movement, took the stage Monday at a Washington, DC hotel where organizers of the institutional element of the progressive movement converged at Take Back the American Dream. The gathering was organized by the Campaign for America’s Future in partnership with Jones’ new organization, Rebuild the Dream. Jones voiced his support for the spontaneous Wall Street uprising, and for the U.S. Marines who agreed, he said, to protect the protesters while wearing dress blues.

Jones said that after he left the White House, where he served as a green jobs adviser to President Barack Obama, he occupied his time studying how the Tea Party movement came into existence and marshaled its power. Jones had been a target of Tea Party ire, stoked by Glenn Beck on his Fox News Channel platform, back when Beck served as the de facto community organizer for media baron Rupert Murdoch, before Beck fell out of the mogul’s favor.

Jones explained the Tea Party’s “leaderless” model to the activists with a PowerPoint showing how the instigators of the Tea Party movement — leaders of groups such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity — didn’t so much create a top-down organization as they did a network that fostered the development of local Tea Party organizations by local activists, who then took ownership of their own corners of the movement. “The Tea Party is an open-source brand,” Jones explained, “that 3,528 affiliates use; none of them own it.” For all their talk of rugged individualism, Jones said, the forces behind the Tea Party “have enacted the most collectivist strategy for taking power in the history of the republic.”