Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst
Last week while in Martha’s Vineyard, we had some major technical issues that knocked WVON-AM/Chicago off the air. I was just talking and talking until we were notified that we were not broadcasting.
So instead of talking for three hours for the online audience, I chose to play Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.’s 1988 speech at the Democratic National Convention.
In a truly mesmerizing speech that still make tears well up in my eyes, Jackson spoke to the pain and success of his supporters and the nation, but also offered some critical words that explained why the name of the first African American to run all primary races should go into nomination.
“As a testament to the struggles of those who have gone before; as a legacy for those who will come after; as a tribute to the endurance, the patience, the courage of our forefathers and mothers; as an assurance that their prayers are being answered, that their work has not been in vain, and, that hope is eternal, tomorrow night my name will go into nomination for the Presidency of the United States of America,” he said to rousing applause.
And later in the speech, Jackson told his personal story of being raised by a single mother, growing up with three last names, and the poor conditions he endured in South Carolina.
But he also offered a compelling reason why his name should go in nomination, which also can be used by the ardent supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton today.
“Every one of these funny labels they put on you, those of you who are watching this broadcast tonight in the projects, on the corners, I understand. Call you outcast, low down, you can't make it, you're nothing, you're from nobody, subclass, underclass; when you see Jesse Jackson, when my name goes in nomination, your name goes in nomination,” he said.
Women have waited years to see one of their own ascend to the presidency. While other nations have elected female leaders, America is 43 for 43 when it comes to white men. When her name goes in nomination, their name goes in.
And it’s no different for African Americans. A nation that once enslaved millions of Africans could be on the verge of seeing the son of an African father and Kansas mother occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. When Obama accepts the nomination, they accept the nomination.
Yet the difference between 1988 and 2008 is that Jackson and his supporters accepted the reality that he wasn’t the nominee, and that continuing to champion his cause – and ignoring the nominee, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis – could spell doom for the party in capturing the White House.
"The only time that we win is when we come together. In 1960, John Kennedy, the late John Kennedy, beat Richard Nixon by only 112,000 votes - less than one vote per precinct. He won by the margin of our hope. He brought us together. He reached out…
“In 1964, Lyndon Johnson brought both wings together - the thesis, the antithesis, and the creative synthesis - and together we won. In 1976, Jimmy Carter unified us again, and we won. When do we not come together, we never win. In 1968, the division and despair in July led to our defeat in November. In 1980, rancor in the spring and the summer led to Reagan in the fall. When we divide, we cannot win. We must find common ground as the basis for survival and development and change and growth.”
But when you have groups like Party Unity My Ass – PUMA – and MakeThemAccountable.com continue to assert that Clinton should be the nominee, and do everything to doom Obama’s chances in November – that runs counter to the issues that Clinton and Obama stand for – health care, ending the war in Iraq, not having conservatives have a majority on the Supreme Court, and so many others.
Choosing to champion McCain as “payback” against Obama and the Democratic Party will do the one thing Dems say they don’t want: guarantee a McCain victory.
Even conservatives have figured this out. Many of them can’t stand Sen. John McCain for a litany of reasons (remember the right wing talkers saying they would vote for Clinton over McCain in November?). But if it’s seeing Obama getting sworn in, they’ve decided to put their personal feelings aside to focus on winning. And in the end, that’s all that matters.
Even Jackson spoke to this issue in his 1988 speech during the section where he made the case for Dukakis.
“Our ships could pass in the night - if we have a false sense of independence - or they could collide and crash. We would lose our passengers. We can seek a high reality and a greater good. Apart, we can drift on the broken pieces of Reagonomics, satisfy our baser instincts, and exploit the fears of our people. At our highest, we can call upon noble instincts and navigate this vessel to safety. The greater good is the common good.
“As Jesus said, ‘Not My will, but Thine be done.’ It was his way of saying there's a higher good beyond personal comfort or position.
“The good of our Nation is at stake. It's commitment to working men and women, to the poor and the vulnerable, to the many in the world.”
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