We need to be clear that Rev. Jesse Jackson paved the way for Obama’s historic candidacy in 2008. Too much of American politics has become punditry and Pepsodent politics. Whether the smile is right, the clothes are right rather than a discussion of issues of substance.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now:
So when the media says, well, Barack was not a part of the civil rights struggle, he’s a beneficiary of it, not a benefactor of it, but each generation becomes beneficiary and then benefactor. This year he’s a beneficiary of that struggle; next time, those who came in because of him, they’ll be the beneficiaries, he’ll be the benefactor. But the struggle continues. And so, from the ’54 end of apartheid to the Voting Rights Act, to the urban breakthroughs, to Harold Washington, the ’84 and ’88 campaigns, to me, this is historic, a non-broken line.
Well, there’s a sense in which many Americans want to focus on racial reconciliation, and they ignore racial justice and racial equality. And you cannot ultimately get past those concerns.
On CNN, the abominable William Bennett, who once suggested aborting every black baby in the country to reduce crime, said:
Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, wins this for the Democrats. I have been watching him. I watched him on Meet the Press. I watched him on your show, watched him on all the CNN shows. He never brings race into it. He never plays the race card. Talk about the black community, he has taught the black community you don’t have to act like Jesse Jackson, you don’t have to act like Al Sharpton. You can talk about the issues. Great dignity. And this is a breakthrough, and good for the people of Iowa.
Democratic voters around the country have been voting for Black presidential candidates for years. After all, the hated Jesse Jackson won seven primaries and four caucuses 20 years ago. He scored wins in, among other places, the White-as-Iowa Vermont (95 percent White) and disproportionately White Delaware (70 percent White). Indeed, the real surprise will be when a Black candidate wins a Republican primary.
Obama won the support of 38 percent of Iowa caucus-goers in his victory. That means, of course, that 62 percent of caucus-goers did not want him to be their party's nominee. This is all the more significant given the incredible turnout much of which has been attributed to Obama's campaign of hope. He expanded the playing field and got his people to the caucuses for which he should be commended. However, it should be noted that Senator John Kerry also received 38 percent support in his 2004 Iowa caucuses victory. Obama's win was solid and comfortable, but it wasn't earthshattering.