Like many of my brothers and sisters here at KOS, I came back to the Democratic Party from the well, adventurist Left. In the 60s and 70s I was farther left than the Commies and Trotskyists and the Weather Underground and the Peace & Freedom Party, etc.
But when my friends and I got busted because of Nixon's pro-war, and anti-drug policies. I edged back into the Democrats. By 1972, the Democrats had run off most of the racists and nominated George McGovern, who seemed like a very decent person.
I realized the only realistic way to dump Nixon and end the nightmare was to elect a Democrat, my Tupamaros fantasies norwithstanding. So I cut my hair and worked for McGovern. I actually thought he would win! Heh.
Please bear with me beyond the orange cryllic symbol for BS, and I'll accelerate to present day soon.
And for the next 44 years and into the foreseeable future, I've supported the lesser-of-two-evil Democrats. Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale were honorable liberals, but they weren't going to nationalize anything or arm the proletariat.
In the 70s and 80s I drifted into the labor movement and fell in with a militant crowd who fought the class war every day. We could battle the bosses and win, but when the State put their thumbs on the scale we faced defeat and retreat, contract by contract by shop by factory.
And along came Jesse Jackson. A colleague of Martin Luther King, Jackson could turn a phrase with the best. Jackson was in Memphis with Martin, supporting the garbage workers strike when that racist murdered Martin.
You rarely found a politician on the picket line with the workers. But Martin was there. And in 1984, Jesse was there too. He ran for President that year, and embraced working peoples' causes. He marched on our picket lines and spoke at our union rallies.
Jackson never held elective office but he won over 3 million votes and over 18% of the total in the Democratic primaries. He won 5 primaries and caucuses in 1984.
I worked for a tough crowd in the construction unions who didn't challenge capitalism beyond cursing it, but God help you if you crossed a picket line.
Most of the officers and membership were white. Yet when Jesse ran again in 1988, there he was on our picket lines, alone among the candidates. We faced an existential threat in 1988. A strikebreaking company called BE&K took on labor at a dozen locations.
But everywhere BE&K was, Jesse was too, picketing with us and speaking at labor's rallies and strikes across the country. Jesse helped us draw 10,000 people to a demonstration at a BE&K job site in Northern California, and we were unspeakably grateful.
Jesse won 6.9 million votes, 7 primaries, and 4 caucuses. At one point, after winning the Michigan primary, he was leading in delegates.
Even though Jesse lost, his unwavering support for labor helped cement the building trades into the Democrats for decades to follow, and helped defuse some of the racism among that huge group of the white working class.
Jesse was as close to a representative of my privately held politics as anyone in my lifetime.
Now Bernie is running, and he's been on some picket lines too. God bless him. Can Bernie run as good a race as Jesse did in 1988?
The primary schedule gives Bernie a good change at the smaller early states; Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. After that, things get tough. Jesse did well in the South, and Bernie will have a tough road to match Jesse there, in the 7 southern and border states among the 12 states voting on Super Tuesday, March 1. Three of the six states choosing delegates in the week after Super Tuesday are also Southern states.
Jesse was able to survive Super Tuesday because of his strength in the South. I don't know if Bernie can too.
I think it's more important to think about what the fact of Bernie's candidacy means. The same way that Jesse's run helped consolidate voting groups into the Democrats for decades, Bernie's appeal to younger, more liberal voters may demonstrate to them there is hope in the Democratic Party, even if Bernie loses.
Thanks for reading to the end,