on February 8. The term that Jackson frequently uses to describe the central problem of the U.S. economy is “economic violence.” “Just as we replaced racial violence with racial justice, we must replace economic violence with economic justice,” he said last October in announcing his candidacy. In a speech in December in Victoria, Jackson described the term this way, as recorded by Austin American-Statesman reporter Dave McNeely: “It’s when oil tankers are being escorted up and down the Persian Gulf at a cost of more than a million dollars a day, and oil wells are capped in Texas. Economic violence. “It’s when 600,000 family farmers are driven from their land in America, and we’re importing food from foreign countries subsidized by the U.S. government. Economic violence. “To be spending $150 billion a year defending Europe 40 years after the war when they can share the burden. . . . Old folk in our own country can’t afford hearing aids, eyeglasses or dentures and have to choose between food and heat. Economic violence. “When we spend our money chasing 3 Million Sandinistas and feeding 15,000 contras, and you aren’t feeding people in the Valley of Texas that’s economic violence.” Implicit in such domestic concerns is a rejection of the actual violence we have fostered in the name of the East-West struggle. In Latin America, where the Reagan administration sees anti-imperialist subversives determined to collude with the Soviet Union, Jackson sees customers. “Next door to us there are 400 million Latin neighbors/customers,” Jackson said in January in Austin. “They used to buy some of their grain from us. Now they can’t buy it, we can’t sell it. They’re starved, we have surplus. If we reduce their debt, we reduce our deficit. Our future. Our future next door . . . If we shut down that war policy in Central America, the Pan American Highway would be hummin’, [with] grain, trucks, tractors . . .” Jackson has also argued for trade with Nicaragua, a change that would do more to liberalize Daniel Orgega’s government than does our current policy of underwriting terrorism while maintaining an economic boycott, which is not unlike the Eisenhower/Kennedy agenda of military pressure and economic isolation that as Theodore Draper so eloquently argued 20 years ago drove Castro into the Soviet camp. Jackson has also called for diplomatic relations with Cuba, understanding that commercial relations and the introduction of North American products there will do more to reform the Castro regime than what has been acheived by 30 years of economic isolation. What the mainstream press often derisively refers to as Jackson’s “Third Worldism” is nothing so radical as to suggest that North Americans must come to accept that popular democracy and socialism in the Third World are not incompatible to U.S. interests. Also on Jackson’s foreign policy agenda is his commitment to the creation of a Palestinian homeland, which surely must be the cornerstone of any humane Middle East policy considered by progressive Democrats. FEW DEMOCRATS deny that Jesse FEW is the most articulate candidate on the stump. But many see him as merely an orator and little more. Jackson’s message is “just rhetoric,” one Dallas Democrat who is supporting Gore told us recently. It generates a lot of applause but it doesn’t add up to a Presidential candidacy. Aside from the fact that any politician’s platform can be dismissed as “just rhetoric,” we suggest that there is a lot more than rhetoric going on here. Jackson represents the most substantial effort to build the progressive wing of the Democratic party since George McGovern’s candidacy. He is addressing the issues of power and poverty and real change that progressives have complained, year after year, have not been touched by mainstream Democratic candidates. But he is not just building a stronger progressive wing by making speeches; he is adding to our ranks. He is leading a delegation that will arrive at the party, enter through the front door, and say, “Our time has come.” No one from the top levels of the Democratic party has actually invited Jesse Jackson to do this, nor has any other Democrat invited his followers “the damned, disinherited, disrespected, despised,” as he put it in San Francisco in 1984 with the conviction that Jackson has. Establishment Democrats are frightened of Jackson’s politics of inclusion. What damage do they fear? Simply this: they do not want white conservatives, whom they think of as southerners, to bolt from the party. They frame the concern as a simple pragmatic strategy for keeping the party large enough to win the White House. But are they not revealing, as well, a clear preference for the white conservative wing? Are they not saying we must reject Jackson and his legions and cater to the Sam Nunn Democrats? In doing so, they are showing themselves to be men of little faith. They are fretting that white southerners can not find common ground with hard-luck farmers, urban blacks, striking factory workers, the homeless, the hungry, the disenfranchised. Jackson is saying just the opposite. We do not think Jackson will be elected President. On the network news and in the major newspapers he would certainly be perceived as further to the left than George McGovern. And of course, McGovern couldn’t get elected in 1972, even in a more liberal era. For that matter, we do not think Jackson can win the Democratic nomina tion. You would see party chairman Paul Kirk put on pink feathers and dance . the funky chicken in front of Mario Cuomo if that’s what it would take to prevent Jackson from carrying the party’s banner in 1988. So why vote for Jesse Jackson in this primary? Because, in our view, the Democratic party is once again teetering on the verge of putting up the kind of candidate who is acceptable to the big money raisers who call themselves Democrats, the kind of candidate who does not have the ability to inspire the party’s natural constituents namely those who are fed up with the Republicans. \(This type of candidate is currently campaigning What is now shaping up in the party is a struggle over a moderate or conservative candidacy such as Gore’s or a traditionally liberal candidacy of the kind that Paul Simon and Michael Dukakis have tried to define. Richard Gephardt is the other factor; he is known by party bigwigs to be a safe and unthreatening candidate, with the added advantage of being able to mouth lines that suggest he is not. The idea of the Super Tuesday southern primary was to win this party struggle in favor of a conservative Democrat such as Sam Nunn or Charles Robb. But since those great white hopes decided not to cooperate, the party fatcats now pray that the primary will boost Gore or Gephardt. In our view it would be a sweet irony to see Jackson get a lift from the primary that was supposed to head off any progressive tilt to the nominating process. We urge a vote for Jackson because we think it is time for the party to tilt. Presidential contests in America inevitably have more to do with personalities than with issues of substance. This year we have an almost dominating preoccupation with what are called “character issues.” The character flaw that is most commonly attributed to Jackson is that he is in it for himself, that the drive behind his campaign is his own considerable ego. But Jackson, more than any other candidate \(excepting Republican movement that is larger than his campaign. Working for Jackson and voting for Jackson is a way of participating in this movement that we hope will grow strong enough to change the face of politics in this country. Tie movement we are talking about is driven by populist sentiment. Its concern is with the majority of people here who do not see their incomes rising with Reagan’s “rising tide.” These are the people who can not be sure a corporate decision made at the top of a skyscraper somewhere will not deprive them of their job tomorrow, who sometimes need the intervention of the government to allow them to prosper or survive,, who are in no rush to send young men to fight in places they’ve never been to, or to finance others to do the fighting. These are people who are not interested in 4 FEBRUARY 26, 1988
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