I regret the resignation of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. I love him and have watched him grow from a toddler to becoming a Distinguished Gentleman of Illinois. I was very much apart of his initial race, where a special election was held after Congressman’s Mel Reynolds sex scandal. Jackson represented the Second Congressional district well, in his 17 years of public service with measurable accomplishments. With Jackson’s resignation America has lost the voice of a progressive democrat and a civil rights advocate. He made us proud. His dream was realized.
His tender of resignation has caused a political stir from generational shift to father son relationships to who’s next. This is not how a bright shinning star was supposed to fall. While he is being rite of rumor and scandal from investigations by the House Ethics Committee to allegations of misuse of campaign funds he is challenged with health issues diagnosed as bipolar that produces mood swings from depression to bouts of grandeur. He is mentally challenged and I pray that he is totally healed.
I would rather him a healthy citizen than a sick congressman. His condition is delicate and sensitive.
He set a high political standard for himself. He knew his bar was high given his very name. His standard was high, as was his promise. In order to get his vote and/or support he insisted that politicians and candidates ride his district to see first hand what ranged from despair to the lost and forgotten. He often said, “I want the south side to look like the north side. “ He meant economic growth and development. He meant jobs. He saw a big picture. He did not understand how the water in Fort Heights was brown with rust, like a third world country, and the drinking water was not clear and the fire department could not use the water for fighting fire for fear of rusting the water hoses. He was determined and committed to make the water clear. And he did.
He saw a big picture. He had a vision. He saw the third airport in the south suburbs, as an economic boom . The third airport has been his mission since his campaign publicist, Del Marie Cobb, presented it to him as a cause. He did the political dance to make it happen. He put his arms around the third airport idea and went to bat for the necessary political maneuvers, crossing the isle to make it happen. He saw the economic opportunities and what it would mean to the little towns in the south suburbs and for the far south side. He talked to whomever would listen with charts, power points and business proposals. He was blocked by the Daley forces from serving on the Committee of Transportation that might have expedited the efforts of the third airport.
He and his political wife partner, Alderman Sandy Jackson, ran a war room in the basement of their home. They were up on the technology, the maps and the media. They were both methodological savvy in campaigning. He knew the voting patterns and the demographics in the various wards. He knew where the support was and wasn’t. He knew his district. He knew the opportunities from the strip mall to the airport to the casino. He began to run candidates with his well healed machinery.
He strived for a perfect voting record and he nearly had it until his illness. He wrote a book, A More Perfect Union. Whenever he was asked if he could attend functions, his answer was contingent on whether there was a congressional vote or not. He was obsessed with ethics. That’s why it’s hard to believe he is being challenged on the code of ethics. Ethics was his first study when he took office. He was a nerd on the ethics rules. He served on the United States House Committee on Appropriations and was in line for the Chair, a powerful position. In 2008, he was a National Co-Chair for Barrack Obama’s historical campaign. In a controversial move, he went against family members.
The Senate Seat - a historical game changer
He had an opportunity to run for the vacate Senate Seat in 2004 . When Obama asked for my support I urged him to talk to Congressman Jackson and Carol Moseley Braun as they were both considering the race at that time. All knew three black candidates would cancel each other and only one could mount a winning campaign. I thought it was a natural progression for Jackson’s political career and urged him to step forth. He did not and the rest is history. To Obama’s good credit he spoke to Jackson and Braun and asked them if they were running. They both declined the race. Gladly I supported Obama. Jackson’s senatorial candidacy could have changed the course of history and in retrospect; I truly believed he would have won the race. As the speculation goes some have said that it is assumed that he was in line for the presidency. I never heard him say he wanted to run for the President of the United States. He had seen a presidential race up close and personal. He did have desire to be Speaker of the House.
As the news reports and pundits discuss Jackson they count him down and out and the stories read as obits. He is definitely down at this time faced with serious and multiple challenges. But don’t count him out forever. He is of a good age and stage in life where many lessons will be learned
Be remindful that Ted Kennedy continued to serve in the U.S Senate after the accidental death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick. It was a very dark time for Senator Kennedy. After the incident in 1969 his name was scandalized and he went on to become the second most senior member of the Senate where he served for nearly a half a century. The tragic auto incident definitely caused him the Presidential selection of 1980. He passed 300 bills and was well respected and went on to become a senior statesman serving the the people of this nation very well.
Time will tell with Jackson. I hope he emerges with new vigor, lessons learned and perhaps a new career. A political career, these days is tough, costly and only the strong survive. Jackson’s 17 years in Congress are not to be lost, dismissed or discounted. He served well, until his illness.
In November of 2012, a new chapter of Chicago-Illinois politics begins.