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2016 Postmortem

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Uncle Joe

(58,900 posts)
Sat Feb 27, 2016, 04:06 PM Feb 2016

Bernie Sanders Was Slapped For Supporting Jesse Jackson in 88 [View all]

During the 1988 Democratic Presidential Primaries, Rev. Jesse Jackson emerged as a viable contender for the Democratic nomination against establishment-backed Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. An ardent supporter of Mr. Jackson’s presidential bid was Bernie Sanders—then mayor of Burlington, Vermont. During a Democratic caucus, Mr. Sanders gave a speech in support of Mr. Jackson while Democrats in the room turned their backs—and, as he walked off stage, a woman slapped him across the face. Mr. Sanders was one of the few elected officials to cross racial lines and openly endorse Mr. Jackson, ultimately helping Mr. Jackson win Vermont against Mr. Dukakis by one delegate in 1988. Although Mr. Dukakis would win the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Jackson made it closer to the presidency than any black person before him.

Mr. Sanders’ speech supporting Mr. Jackson parallels many of his speeches on his own campaign trail today—including one of his signature sayings, “enough is enough.” Mr. Sanders praised Mr. Jackson for uniting disenfranchised voters and focusing on issues such as wealth inequality and racial injustice, and Mr. Jackson’s ’88 campaign closely resembles Mr. Sanders’ current platform. Dr. Cornel West, who has campaigned on behalf of Mr. Sanders for months, and who worked for both of Mr. Jackson’s presidential campaigns, likened Mr. Sanders to an insurgent on par with Mr. Jackson—but with even more direct and progressive criticisms of Wall Street.

“Jesse Jackson is a serious candidate for the presidency. He was always serious; it was just that the political scientists and the other politicians who belittled his campaign trivialized his efforts and disdained his prospects. Despite the contempt and condescension of the media—or perhaps because of it—Jackson went to the most remote and isolated grass roots in the American social landscape to find the strength for a campaign that has already begun to transform politics,” wrote the editorial board of The Nation, in its 1988 endorsement of Mr. Jackson for president. “For five years his distance from the funders, the managers, the mediators and the consultants who manipulate the Democratic Party and legitimize its candidates has allowed Jackson to do unimaginable things and say unspeakable words—about race, about class, about equality and, indeed, about democracy. To an extent that may be unique in presidential elections in this century, he derives his power from the people.”

Nearly two decades later, not much has changed in that the issues brought to the national spotlight by Mr. Jackson have yet to be adequately addressed by the Democratic party in a meaningful way. Mr. Sanders’ campaign provides hope that those inadequacies may be resolved.



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