The Political life of Jesse Jackson
Politics from a different perspective
Jesse Jackson Sr. has served as a shadow senator for the District of Columbia alongside Florence Pendleton from January 3, 1991 to January 3, 1997. An African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister, Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. had also been a presidential candidate for the democrats in 1984 and 1988.
Among Jesse Jackson’s numerous achievements as a civil rights activist was the founding of the National Rainbow Coalition, where his son Jesse Jackson Jr. was once a national director before becoming a long-term congressman and incumbent U.S. Representative for the 2nd congressional district of Illinois. Jesse Jackson was also the founder of Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity). The two non-profit organizations were merged in 1996 under the banner of Rainbow/PUSH.
When Jesse Jackson created Operation PUSH in 1971, it was right after he resigned from Operation Breadbasket (affiliated to Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference) due to disagreements with Reverend Ralph Abernathy. Jesse Jackson used PUSH to advocate black self-help. Jesse Jackson endeavored to educate American people in social issues and civil rights related to black citizens. Through Operation PUSH, Jesse Jackson was able to pursue Operation Breadbasket’s economic objectives. Through PUSH, Jesse Jackson was able to protect black citizens at work, home and business.
Jesse Jackson has also spearheaded minority youth reading programs and education through PUSH-Excel, an off-shoot of Operation PUSH. PUSH-Excel reached out to inner-city youths and kept them in schools as well as helped them get descent jobs. Because of Jesse Jackson’s pursuit and vision, PUSH-Excel influenced parents to get involved in monitoring the inner-city youths to study two hours a night. Former US President Jimmy Carter was impressed, and along with Secretary Joseph Califano and Secretary Ray Marshall, they sponsored Jesse Jackson’s organization.
Reverend Jesse Jackson founded the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984, inspired by his presidential campaign after making a speech and mentioning the idea of the “Rainbow Coalition”, which was coined by Fred Hampton. Jesse Jackson speech appealed to the idea of equality among different races and a demand for voting rights and social justice. The Rainbow Coalition speech delivered by Jesse Jackson encouraged Native Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, homosexuals and small farmers to join Jewish Americans and African Americans in the pursuit of political empowerment and public policy matters.
As the second African American presidential candidate (Shirley Chisholm was the first in 1972), Jesse Jackson was chosen by the democrats as candidate in the 1984 nationwide U.S. presidential elections. Jesse Jackson surprised everyone who written him off as a fringe candidate by securing the third place position in the electoral primaries. Jesse Jackson won five primaries and caucuses and gained 21% of the votes.
In his 1984 presidential campaign, Jesse Jackson blamed the Reagan administration policies that caused major layoffs that greatly affected African-Americans and other minorities. Jesse Jackson blamed Reaganomics for unemployment, inability to rebuild urban cities, and the reduction of government spending. Jesse Jackson also criticized the screening process as a “parade of personalities” and the restrictions set by his party’s rules for not winning.
During the campaign, Jesse Jackson became infamous commenting against Jews and Richard Nixon. Jesse Jackson was reported saying New York City as “Hymietown” (“hymie” is a derogatory term for Jews). Although denying the accusations at first, Jesse Jackson later on confessed and apologized for it, reasoning that he mentioned it to a reporter in private. Jesse Jackson also made comments about Richard Nixon’s agenda, naming four of Nixon’s advisors are German Jews and instead of concentrating on American issues, Nixon would likely prioritize ties with Asia and Europe.
The unsolicited accusation in 1979 that Israel was a “theocracy” and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was a terrorist badly damaged Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign even after apologizing for some of these comments. Jesse Jackson was viewed by American conservatives as an Arab government sympathizer and hostile towards Jews and Israel. To save his public image for the Jewish community, Jesse Jackson was asked to speak at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in support of Vice Presidential candidate Senator Joe Lieberman, who is Jewish.
Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. was once again elected as a presidential candidate in the 1988 nationwide presidential elections as one of the democrats’ representative. Jesse Jackson’s past achievements as a political figure made him a more reliable candidate this time around.
Jesse Jackson courted many votes from the UAW Local 72 union after staging a rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin right after Chrysler announced that they’re closing down. There was also a significant increase in white voters from Wisconsin for Jesse Jackson but was apparently lower than the overall primaries poll compared to the 1984 campaign.
Allegations regarding the criminal activities of Noah Robinson Jr., Jesse Jackson’s half brother damped his campaign. Jesse Jackson eventually lost to fellow democrat Michael Dukakis as a presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.
Jesse Jackson ran what most considered as a liberal platform in the 1988 campaign. Jesse Jackson’s desire to create the “Rainbow Coalition” prompted objectives such as giving compensation to the descendants of black slaves, making a work progress administration style for reconstructing and providing jobs in America. Jesse Jackson proposed to apply a stricter enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, endorsing the Equal Rights Amendment, reprioritizing the War on Drugs, and cutting the budget of the Department of Defense. Jesse Jackson advocated supporting family farmers in renewing many of Roosevelt’s New Deal-era farm programs. Jesse Jackson wanted to create a single-payer system for healthcare, reversing Reaganomics-inspired tax cuts, supporting the development of Palestinian state and proclaiming Apartheid-era South Africa as a rogue nation.
Reverend Jesse Jackson’s son, Jesse Jackson Jr., is a longtime supported of Barack Obama and has become co-chairman in Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. When asked about finally having an African-American elected as president, Jesse Jackson commented that Barack Obama deserved the win even if he [Jesse Jackson] played a significant role in paving the path towards it. Jesse Jackson Jr. has linked his 2012 candidacy to Obama and, together with his fellow democrats, will support in the Barack Obama 2012 re-election campaign.
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