I attended my first (& so far only) presidential campaign rally when Jesse Jackson came to the Santa Rosa fairgrounds to give a speech. I remember Eric Shanower wearing a Jackson ’88 campaign pin at the Oz Convention that year. (When I met Kent I discovered two Jackson ’88 campaign coffee mugs in his kitchen. We still use them.)
As an out gay man I was sick of the Democratic squeamishness around my kind, an attitude that hobbled the fight against AIDS as well as limiting the recognition of equality. Jesse Jackson spoke out for gay people and for major funding in the AIDS fight. It was thrilling seeing him win state primaries. It felt like there was Hope.
When I spotted Our Time Has Come at the library I was looking forward to at least some discussion of the ’88 run. Got none.
from the book log (1/13/89):
Our Time Has Come: a delegate’s diary of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign by Lucius J. Barker. 1988. University of Illinois Press
It’s curious that the book, emerging in 1988, deals exclusively with Jackson’s 1984 campaign. A bit disappointing because one would like some comparisons and contrasting of the ’84 with the ’88 campaigns.
Lucius Barker does go on. Goodly portions of the book could be excised without trauma (without noticing). He chose a strange middle ground between objective analysis and personal involvement narrative — strange because I got such a sense of “neither here nor there.”
Barker talked an awful lot about his objective/subjective dilemma — he talked about his dilemma. [I didn’t record what Barker’s “objective/subjective dilemma” was exactly, but I’ll guess the dilemma was what stance to take when writing about the campaign.] The old saw: Show, don’t tell. He does a lot of tell. Not nearly enough show. Yet until I find a better book about Jesse’s campaign this is better than nothing. I liked Barker’s observation that, win or lose, Jesse’s campaign gave a lot of minority and social justice-type people valuable experience in running a national presidential campaign, experience you can’t get elsewhere. Hope some of these folks move into positions of power and leadership because of Jesse’s runs.
The campaign began with black leadership divided between Jesse & Mondale, then came Lt. Goodman’s Jesse-made release from Syrian prison, then the overblown Hymietown remark, the frustrating convention where all of Jackson’s minority planks were not only defeated but ignored and the boffo speech (which is reprinted in this book and; reads well too).
The “delegate’s diary” of the title is just one chapter but gives a feel of the convention. More show than tell, finally.
I’ll make the prediction that if Jesse runs in 1992, his negatives will have come down — not all the way but some, and he will be first or a close second in those stupid “if the primary were held today for whom would you vote” polls in early 1992. Whether he’ll stay on top I won’t predict but I do think he’ll do better than in ’88. I’m not sure he can remain a perennial presidential candidate too many more years. ’92, I think so. ’96? The year 2000? I’m inclined to doubt that he’ll be a big force unless he does gain the presidency in the 90s. Who knows. What is he doing now I wonder … He made some statement about how corruption is not a color issue & bad when anyone engages in it, in reference to Marion Barry, Mayor of Washington, D.C., & the trouble Barry is in.
Jesse Jackson did not run again in 1992. I thought Jackson could build on his ’88 successes, since there was no Democratic incumbent and the people who had supported him were as ignored and discounted as ever. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton came along and spoke up for gay people in a way no one had. Despite my doubts about a Southern politician really being there for us when the going got rough I pinned a Clinton/Gore political button to my college backpack.