Responsible Democrats will do their party a favor by publicly condemning the comments of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who on Monday essentially called for civil unrest if Texas Gov. George W. Bush is declared the winner of the presidential race.
Jackson did more than claim there was a conspiracy to take away the votes of African-Americans. He did more than say that blacks, Holocaust victims and Haitian boat people were denied their right to vote. He did more than charge that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is guilty of civil rights violations. That's the kind of revanchist rhetoric we have come to expect from this demagogue without a day job.
What is over the top and out of line is his statement, "We will take to the streets right now, we will delegitimize Bush, discredit him, do whatever it takes, but never accept him."
Those threats are something Americans expect to hear from a rabblerouser in an emerging democracy somewhere in Eastern Europe. We surely don't expect credible Americans to say, in advance of a court decision of the magnitude being decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, that there will be a campaign to destroy the chosen leader.
Jackson says he could live with a Bush presidency if Bush is the legitimate winner. But, of course, Jackson wants to be the chosen one deciding who the winner is; it's not good enough that there are three branches of government and that the judicial branch is where this matter of national importance has finally landed.
If the court doesn't go his way, Jackson has telegraphed to the nation that he's hopping mad and might do anything, even call for taking to the streets.
Last year, Vice President Al Gore said, "I will do whatever it takes to win." Now, Jackson says his cadre will "do whatever it takes" to ensure that Bush can never lead.
This "whatever it takes" is beginning to sound a lot like the mantra of the Democratic Party. It's time for Jackson to end this recycled rhetoric and speak as a responsible American who respects the rule of law.
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