'What Does Jesse Want?' Ask 'What Does He Deserve?'

Posted: July 20, 1988

The game has not turned out the way Jesse Jackson wanted. This is what happens in political battles. Someone has to win, and some must lose.

Actually, Jackson is luckier than most who have lost. For all of his extreme liberal views, he has been treated with kindness and generosity by the national press which normally feeds on a candidate whose views are so often radical and has been quoted making racial statements. In fact, the public has

bent over backwards to show Jackson and his supporters respect and courtesy.

But it seems that this is not enough. They have to win the game, or they'll tip the board over. One gets the feeling that if this were a football game, Jackson would snatch the ball and go home because his friends wouldn't play by his rules.

"My attitude is moderated by my maturity and understanding of the process," Jackson said the other day, while responding to questions about the selection of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen as Michael Dukakis' choice for vice president. Perhaps this statement would have been more convincing had he not looked so much like a jilted suitor who had just heard that his date had asked someone else to the prom. Contrary to his public statements, it's clear that Jackson doesn't fully understand the game of politics.

To his credit, he managed to force his way into being a major player in the presidential primary process. He has been given the chance to speak his mind. In both 1984, and 1988, as a candidate with a built-in constituency, Jackson has been given a platform with which to spread his views. Not even the most loyal Jackson supporter can justly complain about Jackson's accessibility to the print and electronic media. He has had opportunities that few have been accorded, and without ever being elected to any office, he has been treated as a senior statesman by both parties.

But this is not enough. The question from the beginning was "What does Jesse want?" Most are still asking that question, but perhaps a better question would be "'What does Jesse deserve?"

As an American over 35, Jesse Jackson deserved the right to run for president. Regardless of race, he deserved the chance to be heard and to draw as many people as he could to his "rainbow coalition". He was denied none of these things. He deserves nothing more.

Jesse had his day in court, and as painful as it is for him to face, the American public has decided that it doesn't want him to lead the country. And polls clearly showed they did not care for him as vice president either.

It's time to face political reality. What Jackson and his followers forgot was that many people ran for president this year. Only two could emerge victorious from the political conventions. Could anyone honestly say to the other candidates and their supporters, that losing was any less painful? Of course not. The difference is that they are truly "mature" politicians. They were able to accept the fact that the American people heard them out, and wished to go in another direction.

Perhaps Jesse Jackson's ego won't permit him to see that the majority of people (even in his own party) regardless of race, didn't feel that he was the right man for the job.


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