When CNN co-host Anderson Cooper asked Van how he felt on Saturday, Nov. 7, Van spent nearly 10 seconds of airtime gathering his thoughts.
“Well, it’s easier to be a parent this morning. It’s easier to be a dad,” the 52-year-old eventually said, tearing up. “It’s easier to tell your kids, ‘Character matters. It matters. Telling the truth matters. Being a good person matters.’”
Van said Biden’s win is vindication for “people who have really suffered.”
Van added that life is easier for “a whole lot” of other people in America after Saturday’s election result. “If you’re Muslim in this country, you don’t have to worry that the president doesn’t want you here,” he said. “If you’re an immigrant, you don’t have to worry if the president is going to be happier to have babies snatched away or send DREAM-ers back for no reason.”
The Rebuild the Dream author also talked about the election being “vindication for a lot of people who have really suffered” over the past four years. “‘I can’t breathe.’ You know, that wasn’t just George Floyd,” he said. “That was a lot of people who felt like they couldn’t breathe.”
The “chance for a reset” in America is a “big deal,” Van added.
Van then started to talk from what sounded like personal experience. “People who have been afraid to show their racism are getting nastier and nastier to you,” he said. “And you’re worrying about your kids, and you’re worrying about your sister, and can she just go to Walmart and get back into her car without somebody saying something to her."
He added, "And you’ve spent so much of your life energy just trying to hold it together. And this is a big deal for us just to get some peace and to have a chance for a reset. And the character of the country matters, and being a good man matters.”
He then brought his emotional speech back to his family. “You know, I just want my sons to look at this. Look at this,” he said. “You know, it’s easy to do it the cheap way and get away with stuff, but it comes back around. It comes back around, and it’s a good thing for this country. I’m sorry for the people who lost. For them, it’s not a good day. But for a whole lot of people, it’s a good day.”
Commenters commend Van’s “must-watch” speech.
Van later posted his speech on Twitter, and the clip has already been streamed 2.6 million times.
“This is how I, and so many parents, have felt for four years,” wrote singer Sheryl Crow, sharing the clip. “This is a day of hope that we can work together to make our children’s world a better place for everyone. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is a must-watch. Thank you, @VanJones68.”
Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis concurred, tweeting, “This from @VanJones68 articulates what SO many have felt.”
Politicians also praised Van’s speech, with European Parliament member Hannah Neumann tweeting, “Thank you @VanJones68 for putting into words why this election mattered so much - for each and everyone around the world. It‘s over, we did it. America, you did it. @JoeBiden, you did it, @KamalaHarris, you did it.”
German Bundestag member Omid Nouripour, meanwhile, wrote, “As a representative of the people of #Germany, it’s beyond my mandate to judge the will of the American people. As a father, as a Muslim, as a regular target of hate-speech, as a human, I can’t stop watching this, crying with @VanJones68. Thank you for your words, friend.”