I’ve always thought Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was a brilliant politician. Not only because of being the son of the most prominent civil rights leader of this generation, Rev Jesse Jackson Sr., but also because of his ability to connect the dots on the issues that his district members and people across the country grapple with daily. Congressman Jackson has been a fighter for the oppressed and the disadvantaged. Obviously his background informed what he did in Congress. But also his understanding of those issues and pushing them to the forefront makes him a shrewd politician.
Yet it makes you wonder about how careful Congressman Jackson was when it came to campaign finance. In his resignation letter last week which stunned many because it came so soon, Jackson, said he was resigning largely due to his health. At the same time he acknowledged the widening federal investigation he is under and even admits responsibilities for whatever might come out of that investigation. It therefore appears that Jackson knows all too well that the wheels of justice are quickly turning in the federal probe and is prepared to face whatever consequences come out of that.
Losing someone like Jackson in Congress is a big blow to the Democratic caucus given the voice of conscience he’s always been in
the halls of power. But it raises serious questions about political power and its abuse by those who ought to know better. Congressman Jackson grew up in one of the most preeminent American families, and a family that has long made the battle for civil rights a pilgrimage. His is one that understands political power and its abuse. He knows what it takes to avoid political abuse because he came from a background that speaks to leveraging political power for the greater good and yet not be tainted or trapped in it. Not many people growing up can brag about the background of Congressman Jackson.
Why then would such a promising political career come to an end so soon? In 2008, when I was covering the historic Democratic National Convention in Denver where President Obama was nominated, one of the most impressive speakers was Congressman Jackson. After he finished speaking he brought delegates to their knees because of his brilliance and understanding the relationship between the struggle that his father led, and connecting that struggle to the moment that produced then Sen. Barack Obama who would go on to become president.
His delivery at the convention was electrifying and caught everyone’s attention. Then in Denver, Jackson, proved the world was his oyster and that he was just beginning to show the immeasurable potential he has on the national stage as a child of the movement. It is sad to now see the man who captivated thousands in Denver now ends up captivated by a federal probe with untold consequences.