Chicago Mayor Harold Washington cited the need for unity and strong leadership in the Democratic Party in a speech last night before a crowd of more than 250 at the Kennedy School of Government.
"We've got to send Reagan back to Hollywood where he can make more movies on soundstage 'B without endangering the world," Washington said, adding that "the party must build around common economic issues and social concerns, with equal treatment and fairness for all."
As a visiting fellow of the K-School's Institute of Politics (IOP), Washington spent the morning in meetings with IOP students, and devoted the afternoon to undergraduates.
"I was very impressed," said Adam J. Augustynski '86, vice president of the Democratic Club and a Chicagoan, adding, "He seemed very sincere and approachable. The mayor will surely be a major figure in the Democratic Party for some time."
Using his victory last year in a racially heated mayoral campaign as an example of unifying constituents, Washington said that Democrats must build broad-based coalitions of Blacks, Hispanics, women, labor interests, and progressive white voters.
The questions he proceeded to field addressed issues ranging from federal management concerns to the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's Presidential campaign. Although Washington has not formally endorsed Jackson, he says he gives him "preferential status," because "he is a charismatic figure with an ability to express himself eloquently."
Some questions focused on perceived gaffes by fellow Chicagoan Jackson. As the issues became more specific, the Black mayor responded, "The problems of the Rev. Jackson are his problems, and he will have to deal with them himself."
Washington called the media a major threat to Democrats, having once referred to them as "barracudas." He explained that "the press puts more emphasis on the freedom of the press element of the First Amendment than [it does] on the freedom of speech element," adding that "policy has become defined by the inflection of an anchorman's voice."
In a related criticism, Washington called President Reagan's "imperial trip" to China a media event geared towards the "star quality" approach to government.
Asked about the perceived between Jewish and Black communities, Washington said that the Jackson campaign was not the cause of such splits, but that "the issues have been discussed to death in the part 11 years."
He added that when he spoke of "progressive whites," he was referring primarily to Jews, saying that "it follows as the night does the day that these groups should be in the forefront of the attack against the racial right."
Stressing party unity as the key to gaining the White House, Washington said that the Democrats must not let the right "drive a wedge" between coalitions, and called for "strong party leadership based on the tradition of the Democrats as the party of the have-nots."
Earlier in the day Washington attended a reception in Quincy House, a luncheon in Adams House, and several question-and-answer sessions with bou students and the press. Adam H. Gorfain contributed to the reporting of this article