June 26th, 2016

Guest: Rev. Jesse Jackson

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Jackson on Trump and the presidential race:

JJ: “I think we should focus more on the issues that matter rather than branding. I don’t want to brand him. He shouldn’t be branding Hillary. What matters is access to affordable healthcare for people. What matters is reducing student loan debt and making colleges, state colleges, free again. What matters is liveable wages. … Issues that matter have been lost to the diversion of name-calling. We cannot wrastle with them in the mud. We must fly with the eagles.”

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Jackson on how his 1984 campaign brought about a rule change that elected Barack Obama and his support for automatic voter registration and a uniform national primary process

JJ: “In a democracy there are no super people. There are no supreme people. It’s a one person, one vote democracy at its best. And when big money and big delegates rule the roost, the common people are locked out. I think what’s more critical, it seems to me, in 1984 there was something called winner-take-all, so if I get 40% of the vote and someone else gets 49, they get all the delegates. So we challenged that to proportionality. If I get 40% of the vote, I get 40% of the delegates, so those people are not locked out of the process. That was passed and so the result is my delegate count [went] to 1,220 … in 1988. In 2008, under [the] old rules, Hillary Clinton would have been the winner because she won California, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. But under the rules of proportionality, President Barack Obama was losing, but he was winning by getting his share of delegates. So we democratized democracy, let more people have a way into the process. Under the rules of winner takes all Hillary’s the winner. I think we now should go a step further and have automatic voter registration. We should have unified national legislation, not have 50 states [with] separate and not equal elections.

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Jackson on his support for a Constitutional right to vote, eliminating caucuses, and uniform rules governing all the primaries

JJ: “One, we should have a constitutional right to vote, not just a state’s right to vote and have a unified system so we have one national election. Now we have 50 state separate and unequal elections. I was in Iowa and I remember two farmers came up to me and said—they were middle aged guys—they said, ‘Reverend, we heard what you said tonight.’ And they were holding their grandsons in their arms and said ‘Don’t give up. We’re not quite there yet.’ What they were saying was that they would vote for me in a booth, but they could not face their neighbors in an open caucus. That caucus system is fundamentally undemocratic. … Second issue, we have one set of rules in New Jersey and another set of rules in New York, another set of rules in California. We should have one set of rules. … If you have two sets of rules, there can never be justice. You have two sets of outcomes. And that just creates more tension.

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Jackson praises President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba:

JJ: [“It’s] one of the smartest things he has done. I mean, Cuba is 90 miles from Miami. They are our neighbors. We should take a diplomatic offensive on Venezuela. … America, we are one-third of our own hemisphere. Two-thirds of our neighbors speak Spanish; South, Cental, Latin America. We cannot afford to let Venezuela just sink into the ground and in punishing their administration, punish its people. So reconnecting with Cuba and Venezuela and becoming allies in stemming the drug flow from that part of the hemisphere, we really need that relationship. … We advocated for this in ’84. There was no good rational reason not to relate to Cuba in a meaningful way. And now we’re negotiating as opposed to fighting.”

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Jackson on why he believes that the ultimate struggle in America is not that of race, but that of income inequality

JJ: “When you’re in a hole and the lights go out, you all the look the same when you’re suddenly in the dark. When they closed down the Nabisco plant, workers, black, white and brown, men and women, lose their jobs. Race has been used as a diversion for so long. We, all of us, need access to healthcare, a comprehensive healthcare, a single-payer healthcare. We all need education to develop our minds. … We all need the greening of America for all of its people. And so as long as you have two or three sets of rules based on race and class, we will never have justice. We need an even playing field. That means we must deal with the issue of class, not just of race and gender. Class, race and gender all matter. They all matter. I’m convinced that the struggle ultimately is the vertical gap between those that have more than they need and those in the middle class and, second, those in poverty who are expanding.”

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