‘They Don’t Control Me’—Vernon Jones on Confronting Cancel Culture and Leaving the Democratic Party
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), we sit down with former Georgia State Representative Vernon Jones, a lifelong Democrat who recently became a Republican and Trump supporter.
We sit down to discuss his firsthand experiences with cancel culture, why he switched parties, and what he hopes to achieve with his new organization Waking Up America.
Jan Jekielek: We’re here with Vernon Jones at CPAC. The theme of CPAC is America Uncancelled. You’re a bit familiar with the idea of cancellation.
Vernon Jones: Personally, I’m familiar with it because I was a lifelong Democrat who came out to support President Trump. My party called me an embarrassment. They told me, I should resign. They told me, I didn’t share their values—I guess I don’t. At the same time, liberal networks don’t let me on their stations because I wasn’t carrying the narrative of a victim or calling President Trump a racist, when in fact, Joe Biden is the one who has the bigotry in him and the Democratic Party, but they don’t want me to talk about this.
I have never been given any real opportunity to be on CNN and ABC and NBC, because I am an independent-thinking African American man with conservative values, and they don’t want me to have that because I guess I have influence on bringing people in [to the Republican Party] who traditionally have just been voting Democrat, and I say specifically, African Americans.
They’re horrified by me, the left, because they don’t control me like they traditionally have done. All they do is get the black vote and use it to carry out a very liberal agenda that has nothing to do with the black community, and have not done anything for them, really, in the past 60 years.
Mr. Jekielek: This is really interesting. You may have covered this on other interviews. You were a Democrat for quite some time. Did you change? Did the Democratic Party change? What happened?
Mr. Jones: I always tell people: I didn’t leave the party; the party left me. The party, 30 years ago, when I first joined, is not the party of today. Thirty years ago, we were fiscally responsible. Thirty years ago, we believed in the First and the Second Amendment. Thirty years ago, it was about doing things that make this country great, bringing this country together. You can have an independent voice.
Now, the Democratic Party, if you don’t want it exactly like they want it, they don’t want you around, they don’t want you involved, they call you an embarrassment. They talk about this big tent of diversity. There’s one exception. When it comes to African American men and women with independent thinking and conservative values, we don’t belong.
But you can be white, independent-thinking and conservative and be a Democrat, and they don’t say anything about that. As a matter of fact, they support those candidates, and when those candidates run, they say, I know they don’t vote with the Democratic Party but they’re in these races where they have to vote that way or else they’ll lose their seat. My thing is, let’s support a Republican who’s moderate rather than support a Democrat who’s not even on your agenda, but still, they give them passes.
But somebody like me, who’s conservative, who has those same values—this is how I was raised, so I haven’t changed—they see it differently. That’s why you see more and more African Americans waking up, and that’s why I mentioned to you all, I started this organization WakingUpAmerica.us because we’re out carrying a conservative message to everybody.
More and more African Americans now are waking up. They awoke and they’re seeing the light, how the Democratic Party has never in the past 30, 40 years had any real interest in their agenda, like Donald Trump did. Donald Trump came on the scene. When he was campaigning to that black church in Flint, Michigan, he said, “What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump?”
Mr. Jekielek: He got into a lot of trouble for saying that, I recall.
Mr. Jones: He got into a lot of trouble for saying that, but Joe Biden can stay in the same black church and say, if you vote for Republicans, “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.” He should have been blasted for that.
So, my point, Donald Trump came on the scene. What did he do? He worked with prison reform, released a lot of those African American nonviolent offenders that were jailed because of Democratic policies, including Joe Biden’s. That same Donald Trump went to historical black colleges, HBCUs, where they were coming year in and year out begging for funding. What did he do? He wrote the funding into law.
That same Donald Trump took opportunities in his own districts, in many areas that are dilapidated and devastated by Democratic policies, and created job opportunities and redevelopment. That’s Donald Trump. Now, he did that in just four years, when in fact, Democrats hadn’t done anything like that in 40, 50 years.
Mr. Jekielek: Everything that you’re saying to conservatives might sound perfectly reasonable, but it’s probably unbelievable to people that aren’t conservative. Would you agree?
Mr. Jones: Here’s what’s interesting. Every parent wants their child to have a quality education. Isn’t it ironic though, when you look right now at families, their children are trapped in failing schools based on their zip code, and they want their child to have a better education. So Democrats, liberals, doesn’t matter, Republicans, conservatives, we all agree on that.
However, Democrats want our children to remain in those schools, where Republicans are saying, look, don’t trap this kid in this failing school, Let the parent have a choice, a school choice, to send their child to a performing school. Let the money follow the child.
That makes a difference because many families, many black mothers and fathers, have lied about their address to get their child out of failing school and put them in performing school. When the administration found out that they lied about the address, they throw the child out of that school, no sanctuary school for that child, and then they want the mother and father to be arrested.
Aren’t they trying to do the same thing that you say about the illegals coming over here, that they want a better life for their children? You have Americans who want a better life for their children. That’s why Donald Trump is saying, “America First.” We’re okay with immigration, let’s do that, but let’s put America first for a change. And that’s what most Americans and the Republican Party, and probably, quite frankly, those whose views haven’t been shaped by the liberal media, when they look at Donald Trump’s record and what he actually did, you can’t disagree with him.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s very interesting. I think that it’s very hard for a lot of Americans to actually understand what President Trump’s record actually was. Of course, we covered this at The Epoch Times, but that information just isn’t readily available.
Mr. Jones: [The Democrats] knew he was performing, [but] they wanted to write his record off, and they switch people’s attention from his record to his personality, “He’s not presidential. He’s not presidential.”
Well, Obama was presidential, but guess what? Obama failed in immigration. Obama failed in school choice. Obama failed in prison reform. Obama failed in [holding] these other countries accountable. Obama failed in China and all those places in terms of competing. They fail. They didn’t write about it because they don’t want it to be in history where people can look back and look at what his administration did. I know what that’s like, and so that’s what’s so sad about it.
Russia, Russia, Russia—went on for three and a half years. Where is it? No one was arrested based on Russia, Russia, Russia. The [former] president was actually spied on [during] his campaign. The FBI lied in FISA courts and everywhere else. The whole top FBI was rotten from Comey on down—in the brass, not the rank and file, but the brass. Trump was right; the media was wrong. They knew there was nothing there, but it was to damage him.
Another thing, what happened on January 6 was wrong, those who broke the law, but there were thousands and thousands of peaceful patriots who were standing up for their First Amendment, who love their country, who wanted to hold their officials accountable. Now those who broke the law, there’s no excuse for that.
But the Democrats and Joe Biden, all of them want to hang President Trump with those who broke the law. I listened to his speech, I didn’t go and break the law. You can’t control them. As more information came out, [it turned out that] the Capitol knew that something was going to happen, the FBI knew something was going to happen, the Capitol Police knew something was going to happen, but those first few weeks, it was all blamed on Donald Trump.
Let me back up. The whole summer, Black Lives Matter and Antifa, what were they doing? They were burning federal courthouses, police stations, police cars, over 700 police officers were assaulted, 26 people killed, including a young black girl in my home state in Atlanta, Georgia. Eight years old, shot through the car with her mother. In New York, a one-year-old baby girl shot through the stroller. Not a single word from those on the left. From Nancy Pelosi to Maxine Waters, they were encouraging those folks to do that type of violence.
Wait a minute! There were multiple insurgents there on government property too and on police officers, and black businesses burned down. Everybody’s businesses were burned down. They were coming in, literally, taking over city blocks. And the city was bringing them porta johns and just actually helping them to take over the city. They started defunding the police. That same city that defunded all those police officers, they lost police officers, they lost support, and then they started being fearful for their lives. Now, they just recently spent more money to get more police officers to come back.
That goes to show you, Donald Trump from day one was on the side of law enforcement, and they [the Democrats] wanted to defund the police. Who are you going to send to a house call, domestic call? A social worker? Who’s going to protect the social worker? They had the right string but the wrong yo-yo.
Mr. Jekielek: Waking Up America—you mentioned America’s becoming more, I thought I heard you say, “woke,” but waking up America isn’t exactly about becoming more woke from what I’m gathering here.
Mr. Jones: Waking Up America’s focus is on American values, faith based, hard work, work ethic, school choice so kids can really get a quality education, supporting law enforcement, fighting socialism and fighting communism, and fighting those “-isms” that are hurting this country. [They’re] not the American way. We’re carrying this message all across the country, whether you’re Democrat, Republican, it doesn’t matter.
Not too many people can disagree that those aren’t important issues to stand on. It was easy for me because this is how I was reared. These are my values. I grew up on a farm in North Carolina. My mom says, “Stand for what you believe in; express yourself.” Now, the left is trying to kill the First Amendment. My mom and dad felt like we have the right to bear arms, responsibly using guns to protect a family, to go hunting, things of that nature. So those are things I want to reach out about, [especially] to young people.
Young people love the environment. I want to reach out to them on preserving the environment, wildlife, natural life, also on social justice. You can work on social justice without going off the cliff. You can work on the environment without going off the cliff. There are some who talk about in 12 years, our planet is going to fall apart. We know that’s not true. There are things that we can do with moderation.
I think the Republican party needs to do more to reach out to young people, and bring them in, and talk about those issues that are important to them. I also think that we have to go all the way down to, actually, literally, elementary school, because we have teachers from elementary school to college who are teaching these kids, or I should say, putting kids in environments where they’re using their political views that happen to be left, but those kids are on the right. They’re afraid to say anything because they are looked upon as if something’s wrong with them.
When teachers are literally calling Republicans, “Klansmen,” when in fact, Democrats started the Klan, when teachers are saying that President Trump is this and that in a very negative tone, there are other kids who come from families that support President Trump, and they’re afraid to say something. We’re just trying to get down and root this out, and have us recalibrate, in a sense.
Trump brought a revolution to this country with his administration, or to the world. What is a revolution? Radical change. Thomas Jefferson said, we need to go through a revolution every 20 years. When you start doing the same old thing, you drift and you’re drifting, and sometimes you have to do a radical change and pull the country back, and that’s what Donald Trump has done. The left is horrified, but a lot of Democrats don’t really know what’s going on in Washington.
When I discussed with my friends who are Democrats, I said, “In the House in Washington now, you can’t say, ‘brother.’ You have to say, ‘my sibling.'” “That’s crazy.” “Oh, yes. That’s the party that you’re supporting.”
When I say, “Transgender bio males are competing in female sports. Would you like your daughter [to compete with them]?” “No, I don’t want my daughter to compete because biologically, there is a difference.” They didn’t know that. They are voting for these people, because the media has tuned that out. They don’t see that going on and they’re just following Democrats, but when you start looking at what Democrats are doing, it’s destructive to this country.
They have a right to express themselves. I believe in supporting the First Amendment, but they don’t want you and others and me to have the First Amendment, to speak and express ourselves. So that’s why I’m carrying my message across this country and people are buying into it. Democrats are horrified with me because I’m supposed to be black and I’m supposed to support Democrats.
Mr. Jekielek: This is your first time actually at CPAC. Tell me about the experience?
Mr. Jones: It’s kind of interesting. It is my first time. I’m apart of the Grand Old Party now, I feel at home, and people around me here that I met and talked to, from all across this country, we have a lot in common and that feels good. It’s like I’m with family. There’s energy here too.
CPAC has brought together some of the most patriotic Americans that you can find who are committed to 2022 and 2024. The planning is going on, the organization is going on, the networking is going on. We’re planning to retake the Congress in 2022. You’ve seen a lot of candidates here. You see a lot of workshops, a lot of speakers here who are encouraging people. This is where it all starts.
CPAC is the official, in my mind, launch of the 2022 election. I’m seeing more African Americans in the Republican Party now, and here, there are a number of African American candidates who are running for Congress across the country. When I say Congress, [I mean] the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. I think this is new for them, this is historical for CPAC. Matt Schlapp’s leadership—he gets it, he understands it, and he’s supportive and has been supportive of the [former] president.
This has been an incredible opportunity to me. It’s historical for me too. I am more energized and more dedicated, like all of us here. You don’t see this on the liberal networks. You don’t see the gathering, you don’t hear them having different voices, it’s all one sided—the CNNs of the world. But this reinforces that there are too many people out there who think like I think, feel like I feel, believe what I believe, and I’m meeting some of those same 74 million people that voted for Donald J. Trump. So we’re here, we’re armed, and getting stronger and getting bigger.
Mr. Jekielek: Such a pleasure to speak with you.
Mr. Jones: Thank you so much.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.