Jackson supports Gore at campus rally

Peter Johnson

A longtime Democratic supporter, the Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at the Gateway Alumni Center on Tuesday, asking spectators to back the party’s presidential ticket, as well as to turn out and vote.
Jackson, who ran for president in 1984 and 1988, spoke on behalf of Vice President Al Gore during a rally, which also featured Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and two members of the University’s Africana Student Cultural Center.
“We’ve got a really strong group of people on the University campus that are forcefully behind our DFL ticket, and we want to see it win,” Sayles Belton said. “We know that Rev. Jackson has a powerful voice and great influence across our Minnesota.”
Jackson spoke about the importance of a Democratic victory, the issues that separate the Gore-Lieberman ticket from the Republican candidates, and the nature of the contest.
“We know that come Nov. 7th, there is a huge decision to be made that day about the direction of our country. There are two teams on the field giving us different views of America,” Jackson said.
He described the Republican Bush-Cheney team as “wolf politics in sheep’s clothing” — advocating right-to-work laws and state’s rights but opposing abortion rights. Jackson also extended that team to include prominent conservatives like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, describing “their fearsome determination to take back the White House and especially the courts.”
Texas Gov. George W. Bush has said his ideal Supreme Court justices would be modeled after justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, whom Jackson called “strict constructionists.”
“If (Bush) appoints strict constructionist judges, the first five items to fall will be organized labor, the undoing of consumer advocacy and class action suits, undermine Roe v. Wade, and undo the infrastructure that Dr. King created over the last century,” Jackson said.
Using Bush policy proposals on Social Security, abortion, taxes and health care as examples, Jackson said a Republican administration would be problematic.
Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney also figured prominently in Jackson’s comments.
“His record is against a woman’s right to choose in the case of rape and incest, against (the ban on) cop-killer bullets,” he said. “He’s an extremist.”
Jackson said the Gore-Lieberman team included other well-known Democrats, saying their “side of history represents more hope and more healing for more people.”
He also spoke directly to supporters of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.
“I hope that Nader voters who are for consumer advocacy, women’s right of choice, for right-to-work laws and the environment will not risk empowering the Bush forces as an unintended consequence of engaging in a protest,” Jackson said. “That will not elect a president of their choice, but will elect the one who is the most severe threat to their values.”
Many students attended the event for myriad of reasons.
Macalester College sociology freshman Nick Braus said he can’t decide between Nader and Gore.
“I’m most worried about the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade being overturned,” Braus said. He was also interested in Jackson and what he had to say.
“I’m here to see Jesse Jackson,” said College of Liberal Arts junior Athena Retsinas. “He’s been a personal hero of mine since I’ve been a little girl.”
Institute of Technology sophomore Sarah Garnant attended as a Gore supporter.
“I think its really great that Jesse Jackson is coming here to support Gore-Lieberman and rally up more votes,” Garnant said. “I think it’s really important that college students get out and vote.”
Responding to one of the major themes of the rally, Crystal Martin, a journalism, marketing and English junior and vice chairwoman of Africana, said the groups talked about the importance of voting and anticipated low voter turnout of minorities and younger voters.
“Since we have a voice here, we need to make sure we’re using that voice for change,” she added.