On the Politics Show, Sunday 05 November 2006, Jon Sopel interviewed Jesse Jackson, the black civil rights leader.
JON SOPEL: Well I spoke this week to Jesse Jackson, once an aide to Martin Luther King, later a Presidential candidate, and now a veteran campaigner to get poor and ethnic minority voters to turn out and vote for the Democrats. I began by asking him whether he felt the Democrats could win the House and Senate this year.
JESSE JACKSON: The Democrats can win the Senate and the House as a popular up surge for Democrats in the light of the failed policies of the Republican administration... when Bush came in to power six years ago we had the larger surplus ever, not the largest deficit and the largest debt. In the last six years we've lost four million manufacturing jobs and so while tax cuts for the wealthy are increasing, job cuts and benefit cuts for the middle class are beginning to pinch now and a record number of home foreclosures. 51 million Americans have no health insurance and there are now more in poverty that is an... under Bush there is a fire and of course in the middle of the table is the impact of the Iraq War. The Iraq War we've lost lives and money and honour and we keep losing every day.
JON SOPEL: Let me come back to the Iraq war in a minute but what you seem to be suggesting is the scenario where not so much the Democrats are winning but the Republicans are losing.
JESSE JACKSON: Well there's some of both it is in a real sense some Democrats believe in what I call "see-saw politics", they assume that if the Republicans are down they'll automatically be up. But I'm convinced we must be an alternative to not the flip side of. That is to say that fighting for liberal wages for working people for comprehensive insurance for people based upon need not just based upon money. An equal and adequately funded public education. We must therefore represent an alternative to not the other side of.
JON SOPEL: Let me just talk about Iraq now because you mentioned it again. I think a lot of people in Britain were very surprised how little debate there was in America about the war. How important in this election is Iraq as an issue.?
JESSE JACKSON: It's a bigger issue - I remember speaking in London before the war started where there were two million people in London and all around the world that day but in America today six companies own 90% of all that we see, hear on radio TV or movie so there's a basic agreement on a common assumption about those six corporations it leads to controlled information.
That was the assumption because of 9/11 that somehow there was a connection between Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. When we left Bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan and made this turn to Iraq, we found no weapons of mass destruction... no imminent threat, no Al Qaeda connection, we choose to accept corrupted Iraqi exiles over UN inspectors. It really was a big lie, a hoax on the people and some notion of a coalition between US and Britain and other smaller countries.
Well, two, three years later people now begin to think that they have been violated. That there is no victory in sight, that we're losing more lives every day, costing two hundred and fifty million dollars a day, so American public is growing very aware of this war and they see no end in sight. We have in fact have solidified terror, we've expanded it as opposed to reducing it. And now it will have an impact on the outcome of this election.
JON SOPEL: But isn't there a problem for the Democrats because for the most part, I mean you didn't, but for the most part many Democrats supported the war and that leaves them without any leverage on the issue.
JESSE JACKSON: Well it is. Well but many Democrats supported it trusting the President. In the end, the aftermath of 9/11 that was just a kind of fear and trust, we had to do something. The something we did was wrong. It was, it was choosing someone to hit who had not hit us as if that was a pre-disposition toward hitting Iraq, maybe for hegemony on oil because we've not found any rational justification.
The war in Iraq has not made us more secure, it has not reduced terrorism, it has seemed that by choosing to attack Iraq we now have Osama Bin Laden in the hills of Afghanistan, we have leadership of Iraq - Saddam Hussein in jail. Over a hundred Americans killed this month so again we, we have chaos here.
In a quagmire. And the American public now is doing a death count every day and that death count is stacking up against the Republicans in fact who lead us into it. So many Democrats who were for it backed away.
JON SOPEL: Reverend Jackson you said at the start of this interview you thought the Democrats could take the House and the Senate. How bad would it be for your party if they failed to take them?
JESSE JACKSON: Oh, given their hopes it would be a very bad - it would puncture our balloon. We have reason to believe to win. Republicans are now using everything from trying to suppress votes, trying to use fear as a tactic, saying Democrats will being soft on Bin Laden, in fact the people who stopped pursuing Bin Laden in fact were the Republicans, put them on the TV tube, blacks who would become champs in the Congress and they're leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to keep it.
Since the American public is now less willing to accept fear over hope, Democrats will sort the victory, I'm convinced, based upon going forward by hope and no longer paralysed, they're going backwards by fear.
JON SOPEL: Jesse Jackson there with a view from one wing of the Democrat Party.
END OF INTERVIEW
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The Politics Show Sunday 05 November 2006 at 12.00 GMT on BBC One.
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