Democrats have always relied on those who will do what they deem best for the party. In 1984, there was an opportunity to be made as the Reverend Jesse Jackson set the political world abuzz with his inspiring run for the party’s presidential nomination.
At some point (and this is purely speculation) someone got to Jackson and persuaded him to drop out of the race… for the good of the party.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who initially only hinted at his plans should he not win the Democratic nomination, recently told audiences that when the other candidates fade in July with the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, the work will be just beginning for his “rainbow coalition,” Jackson’s grouping of the historically oppressed – including blacks, Hispanics, the poor and women. It is not a threat to run as an independent, nor even a subtle hint that he believes his chances of winning the nomination are slim. Instead, it is a promise to rid himself of the convenient garb of a Presidential candidate and to emerge as what he really seeks to be: the nation’s premier black leader; a mover and shaker with a constituency within the Democratic Party.
And the party is unlikely to be the same again. Jackson, who calls his rainbow coalition “the conscience of the Democratic Party,” has said that “the old minorities will become the new majority,” and he sees himself at the head of this drive, more crusade than campaign, fueled more by a moral vision than by a developed political program.
— New York Times, 3/4/84
Jackson went on to run a marginalized nonprofit (marginalized more when gays stole the “rainbow”), was kept comfortable, shielded from lasting scandal damage, excused from a faux-pas or two, because he did what he was told to do… for the good of the party.
Such was yet another example during what was supposed to be a celebration of the life of Aretha Franklin, but as some of us remember the Wellstone debacle, Democrats can’t help themselves when it comes to co-opting any gathering, no matter how inappropriate, for political gain and Jesse Jackson did the party’s bidding.
BTW — Jesse Jackson dropped out of the race, Walter Mondale eventually lost the presidential race to Republican Ronald Reagan, and it wasn’t even close.
It could be argued if Jackson wasn’t so quick in selling out to Democrats, who knows, he might have been the real first black president and you know, deep down, that may be pissing him off to this day.