Jesse Jackson: Dems Plagued by 'Weak, Fuzzy Ideology'

By Marc Morano | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

Washington ( - Following on the heels of Al Sharpton's criticism of the Democratic Party, Jesse Jackson Friday turned up the rhetorical heat, blaming the party for its "weak, fuzzy ideology."

Jackson faulted the Democrats for supporting the NAFTA and CAFTA international trade deals as well as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which contained a provision imposing life sentences for people convicted of three violent crimes.

Jackson warned black voters to avoid becoming pawns "in the struggle [over] our dignity and our identity.

"We must have a commitment to a political order that makes sense for our constituency," he added, echoing the comments made by Sharpton a day earlier.

Jackson reserved harsh criticism for the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the more centrist wing of the Democratic Party previously dominated by former President Bill Clinton.

The DLC's decision to meet at the same time organized labor was holding its national convention was no accident, Jackson said. "No labor leader was [at the DLC meeting]. No civil rights leader was there. They embrace CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) and now sell admission to its conferences to [corporations]," Jackson said.

Jackson also announced his opposition to the Bush administration's Supreme Court nominee, Judge John Roberts.

"Judge Roberts has a velvet claw, but inside there is a hard steel fist," Jackson said. "He opposed affirmative action and the rights of workers. He went to Florida (during the 2000 presidential election recount) at his own expense to chart the course and anoint Mr. Bush as president. He has paid the price to be exalted by this administration."

Jackson warned that "the more the right wing rejoices, we have every reason to feel the gains of the last 50 years are in jeopardy," repeating a theme mentioned by New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton, who Thursday accused Republicans of trying to erase a century of progress on civil rights.

The construction of new American jails is the result of economic and social pressure, Jackson asserted. "There is a trend across the country today to use jails as tools for economic development and political control.

"In South Carolina, for example, over the last six years they arrested over 110,000 blacks per year -- that's 110,000 calls to lawyers, bailiffs, court appearances," he explained.

"In Louisiana, $10 million a year is collected from collect calls from prison. All [of] that is going to the general revenue budget," he added, noting that the biggest industry" in many states is the department of correction.

The high incarceration rate of American blacks reveals a need for more democracy in the U.S., Jackson said. "As we fight for democracy in Iraq, in Iran and around the world, surely we must have democracy in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama."

See Related Articles:
Sharpton Slams Blacks for Blindly Supporting Clinton, Democrats (July 29, 2005)
Sen. Clinton: GOP Erasing Century of Civil Rights Progress (July 29, 2005)

E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.