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To The Editors of The Crimson:
One cannot fault Juliette N. Kayyem's sentiments for the "poor and oppressed" in her opinion piece of January 26, but her contention that the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and his school-of-Reginald Bacon politics are what the Democratic Party and the nation need is both unfortunate and unsupported by the 1988 campaign. The poor and oppressed of America hardly deserve the ignominy that whould likely result from association with Jackson.
That Jackson falsely claims he cradled Martin Luther King Jr. in his arms immediately after the civil rights leader was slain should give one pause. That he has never honestly explained or apologized for his anti-Jewish quip about New York City as "Hymietown," or that he failed to unequivocally denounce or distance himself from the vicious preachings of that Fruit of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, should give one a sense of extreme anxiety. As Henry Adams noted in his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, it used to be in this country that we held it as a matter of principle to elect those whom we considered our moral and intellectual best.
Even if one should set aside the issue of Jackson's supine moral character, the most positive word one could find to describe a Democratic Party electoral strategy in which Jackson and his program figured prominently would be: suicidal. Erroneously, Kayyem remarks that the Democrats lost the 1988 election because they failed to differentiate themselves from the Republican Party by endorsing Jackson's agenda. In truth, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis was routed at the polls despite the daring of his "I am a liberal" acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. Dukakis certainly tried to differentiate his party from the Republicans, but to much of the electorate the difference appeared to consist of the harmful permissiveness and doctrinaire recklessness which have been Democratic millstones since the 1960s.
The Democrats need to reach farther back in their history, if they are to remind themselves why they are Democrats, and consider the legacy of the man who created the paradigm in which their party has operated since 1933: Franklin Delano Roosevelt '04. A successful Democratic candidate true to his or her political roots will be a better friend to the poor and oppressed than any of Jackson's ilk. Such a candidate will, like FDR, make a determined and intelligent effort to promote a vigorous American capitalism in which we are all as concerned with making life for ourselves as we are with making a living.
If Jackson is elected to high office, at the least one should do him and everyone else a favor and read him this remark by John Maynard Keynes, the greatest thinker the poor and oppressed of the industrial world ever had on their side: "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are an assault of thought upon the unthinking. But when the seats of power and authority have been attained, there should be no more poetic license. When a doctrinaire proceeds to action, he must, so to speak, forget his doctrine. For those who in action remember the letter will probably lose what they are seeking." Daniel L. Alexander '90
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