Civil rights activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson, who has been mysteriously silent about the strike at Verizon Communications, despite a long history of wading into labor dispute, has nonetheless made some critical remarks about President Barack Obama.
In a recent interview with German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, Jackson (who himself ran unsuccessfully for president) touched on a number of subjects, including black America’s growing frustration with Obama and how he feels the Republicans are seeking to destroy the president.
Jackson noted that Obama’s victory in 2008 was a watershed moment in the history of African-Americans, and that it represented the “the last lap of a 60-year [civil rights] campaign.”
But, he added that “some layer of the excitement of that [election] night is gone,” he said.
The Reverend then suggested that black America’s love for Obama has not been completely requited.
“We blacks were the first people embracing Obama, long before the people at expensive fundraisers were supporting him,” he said.
“We gave him his first love, 96 percent of blacks voted for him in 2008. Yet today we are the number one in unemployment, with 16 percent of American blacks out of work. We are number one in foreclosure, number one in short life expectancy, in loan default.”
Citing that black Americans have suffered disproportionately from the economic crisis and housing collapse, Jackson suggested that Obama should so more to help poor people in the U.S.
“Obama used to be a community organizer,” he said.
“He knows how to build communities. In Afghanistan, there is a plan to build democracy; hundreds of thousands of troops are protecting it. There is a plan to rebuild and reconstruct there. But many thousands of Americans die from violence and poverty every year and we don't have a plan for reconstruction at home… Just as [Obama] has an economics advisor, I wish there was a labor leader to balance that too. The poor and unemployed currently have no voice in Washington.”
Jackson also said that Obama caved in to Republican pressure to cut spending, while not raising taxes.
“I think [Obama] sometimes underestimates the force of the other side [Republicans], how tenacious they are in their ideology,” Jackson declared.
“Obama went golfing with John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House. Afterwards, they said their differences are not ideological, not philosophical. Really? If Republicans say they want to cut public spending drastically, they want to cut Social Security and Medicare and the social safety net for poor and working families, and cater to the wealthiest Americans, then that is a different philosophy. If the Tea Party is determined to kill the New Deal and Great Society programs we won in the past, that is a different ideology. And if the right wing of the Republican party is determined to shield themselves from tax obligations or to fight the Civil War again by pushing voter suppression legislation to take away minority voting rights across the country, that is also a very different ideology.”
Jackson intimated the Republicans are tenaciously trying to “destroy” Obama, like fighting pit bulls.
“Even worse, now the Republicans feel they can keep pushing and [Obama] will keep giving,” Jackson stated.
“They have not seen a stiff resistance on his part. The American people on the ground need a clearer, stronger, Lyndon B. Johnson-type voice from their president.”
While conceding that Obama has endured insults and doubts from the right-wing, Jackson warned that the president still must address the problems of black America.
“The black community was essential for Obama’s victory. He must nurture that base if he wants to be re-elected,” he added.