Supporters Say Jesse Can Win Nomination
By Odies C. Wilson III
Vol. 9, No. 2, 1987, pp. 19-21
Jesse Jackson ’88 Exploratory Committees are being formed in over 30 states. The initial success and enthusiasm of these efforts have received very little coverage in the Arkansas media. This is quite understandable because it is a rule rather than an exception that the positive accomplishments or undertakings by blacks are not objectively and factually reported. Positive portrayals of blacks are not objectively and factually reported. Positive portrayals of blacks in the media are usually the products of the efforts of a concerned individual, usually a black, who makes a special effort to compile and submit well documented facts for a feature publication. The lack of sensitivity of local media accurately reporting the positive aspects of the scope and potential of a Jesse Jackson presidential candidacy must be supplemented by concerned blacks writing and speaking out on this issue.
It is a simple fact that many people of all walks of life feel that Jesse Jackson is a serious candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Many others feel that he is the best candidate in the field, announced or unannounced from either political party. Further, there are many elected officials, political analysts, civic leaders, ministers, and laypersons who feel that Jesse Jackson has a realistic and very good chance of capturing the Democratic presidential nomination or at a minimum he can capture a lion’s share of the Democratic convention delegates in Atlanta and have a strong say as to who Wl11 or will not be the Democratic presidential nominee.
A question being asked in political circles across the nation is “Why should Jesse Jackson run for President in 1988?” It is also a question most often answered from a negative and usually uninformed perspective. Far too many people are spending far too much time reading or listening to what a handful of so called “political experts” in mass media and the Democratic Party’s Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), or more appropriately “Democrats for the Leisure Class,” have to say about the potential, direction, effect, dangers and objectives of a Jackson candidacy. For the most, these are the same experts who wrote Jackson off in 1984.
“Jackson would be lucky to get one million votes or one hundred delegates.” “He will not make Super Tuesday.” “He will not make the Democratic Convention.” Those “political experts” or “dream busters” were wrong in 1984. If Jesse
Jackson runs in 1988 he will prove them wrong again.
If Jackson runs in 1988 will he do as well as he did in 1984? Block Jackson strategies have been springing up since 1984. Four years of negative and ill-conceived plans of little men in big places have failed. Campaign professionals have analyzed Jackson’s 1984 campaign and his current political strengths. The results of their analyses have affirmed what Jackson supporters knew all along. Jesse Jackson can win the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988!
So the answer to the “Why should Jesse Jackson run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988? is simple, “He can win.”
Jesse Jackson is the national leader who best expresses the issues and platform which affect the interests of the Rainbow Coalition–blacks, workers, farmers, environmentalists, peace activists, feminists, Hispanics, Asian, Indians, and progressive whites. He has a long and distinguished history of dedicated work on behalf of these constituencies.
Jackson’s core constituency is the Democratic Party’s base, the voters who stick with the party no matter what. Blacks voted over 90 percent for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980 and about the same for Walter Mondale in 1984. But Jackson is much more than an ethnic politician. “A black candidate does not mean an exclusive black agenda, but an inclusive agenda that grows out of the black experience in America.” (Jackson, 1983) Jesse Jackson collects the discontent–a coalition of the rejected–the real silent majority.
He has emerged as the authentic “favorite son” of the constituencies in the Rainbow.
He is doing well in recent polls, and the Roper Poll of twelve Southern states indicated a growing acceptance of his “economic justice, invest America” message among whites. The Roper Poll also showed him with 30 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Jackson has been broadening his base among (white) farmers, laborers, high school and college students, peace activists, Jews and liberals generally. In addition, he has been cultivating an Asian base (Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Korean Americans), and others.
The ’88 election will be the first since Humphrey vs. Nixon in 1968 with a non-incumbent running in the general election from both parties.
Given the numbers and Jackson’s natural base, it is not impossible that Jackson could win outright on Super Tuesday in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. Certainly he will run strong elsewhere, too–especially if he does well in Iowa.
There were those who ignored Jesse Jackson in 1984, but his growing popularity and political activity may make him the Democratic spoiler during the next campaign.
His January visit to Iowa showed the depth of attention he commands. Jackson went head-to-head with the NFL Super Bowl and drew 800 people to a church potluck supper in a small all-white town (population 2,100). The feast has not gone unnoticed in a state where Democrat Gary Hart and Republican Bob Dole had to settle for much smaller audiences. Besides the United Auto Workers, groups helping Jackson organize his trip included churches, Democratic activists and the Iowa Farm Unit Coalition.
Jackson received 3.2 million votes (compared to Mondale’s 6.8 million and Hart’s 6.2 million votes) in 1984–some 21 percent of the total.
There are 20 million eligible black voters–thirteen million registered and seven million unregistered. It is significant to note that the Mondale-Ferraro ticket receive. 10.5 million black voters in the general election–almost [???–page obscured]
million more votes than he received in the primary process to get the nomination. Clearly any combination of 10 million votes will win the nomination. The Rainbow Coalition can win.
Jackson can “win” without getting the nomination. With a powerful bloc of delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the Jackson coalition can determine who will win the nomination, and negotiate the terms for support. He will go into the convention with an agenda/contract reflecting the coalition’s maximum and minimum requirements for support of any candidate. The coalition’s interests can be projected and protected. That would constitute a major victory for the coaliton.
The Jackson for President Campaign will help empower the coalition at all levels through massive increases in voter registration and strong voter turnout through targeted campaigning We can elect more council persons, city board members, mayors, Justices of the Peace, commissioners, state legislators, Congresspersons, and affect the outcome in key Senate races (as we did in 1986). This mobilization for empowerment will have significant impact on reapportionment in 1992.
The Jackson for President Campaign will strengthen long-term political empowerment through enhancing coalition-building, networking and the development of permanent political organizations and institutions.
In 1984 over 20 percent of Jackson’s 3.2 million voters were non-black. This percentage should increase significantly when he runs in 1988, but the fact remains that the initial base of Rev. Jackson’s support is black. It is time for blacks to put aside their own petty personal feelings, anxieties, fears, jealousies and examine the facts of the giant potential of a Jesse Jackson Presidential campaign from a black perspective. There are enough registered black voters alone to deliver the Democratic nomination to Jesse Jackson.
You do not have to absolutely like Jesse Jackson’s attitude, ego, personality, point of view, dress, or deodorant before we can have solidarity in our struggle for equal justice, jobs, and participation in the economic and political power in our state and nation. You don’t have to agree with everything Jesse Jackson says or does to support him. Just like you don’t have to agree with everything Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, Tommy Robinson, or Beryle Anthony, Bill Alexander, Bill Clinton or any other white politician says or does to support them.
Every black voter should find more common ground with Jesse Jackson than any other possible candidate from either political party. Blacks must give Jesse Jackson a solid base to win our party’s nomination. To accomplish this goal we need to reverse the current trend whereby far too many blacks are selling out the well-being and vested interests of their communities for some personal and private idiocyncrasy.
Let’s be bold enough to win with Jesse Jackson in 1988. Jesse Jackson should run for President in 1988! Jesse Jackson should win the Democratic nomination in 1988. He is undoubtably the best candidate.
Odies C. Wilson III is a coordinator for the Jackson campaign in Arkansas. This article is adapted from the Arkansas State Press, a black weekly newspaper published in Little Rock.