A Sharp Critique of Jesse Jackson

A Sharp Critique of Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson is an important figure in American politics and a 1984 presidential candidate who stands ready to repeat that race in 1988. Nonetheless, Jackson is not a credible, legitimate, or desirable leader for black America, argues black Yale political scientist Adolph Reed in this short but immensely stimulating book.

Reed’s critique of Jackson’s role, unlike many other attacks, is almost completely theoretical and political, not personal. The core of Reed’s argument is that in the post-Voting Rights Act era, black elected officials—politicians responsible at the ballot box to an identifiable constituency—are vastly preferable, especially in terms of democratic theory, to black “leaders” such as Jackson, whose representational status is not grounded in any direct, formal linkage to an electoral base.

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