By Charles D. Ellison
Let’s hope that the final act, fall and last episode of (newly) former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. also means the end of Black dynasty politics. So far, though, it’s not looking all that good in Illinois’ 2 nd Congressional district. Windy City’s whistling, frigid winds have not managed to blow the trash out as a band of political misfits and usual shady suspects are lining up to take his place.
It’s a shame since it’s the last thing the 2 nd District needs at the moment. As one of the most tightly held and exclusively Democratic seats in the country, the district is nearly three-quarters African American and rife with poverty. Residents were already dropping to their bedroom floors like soldiers on the Western front, dodging gang-banging bullets late at night while putting their kids to sleep. Recession, like any other American urban metropolis, never stopped in certain parts of Chicago, especially places like Ford Heights – for example – where the median household income is less than the national average. In its demographic brief, The Almanac of American Politics claims the district has the highest rate of single mothers per capita in the country. While attempting numerous public displays of affection as a way to dispel looming federal probe rumors, even Jackson went so far as to openly solicit job resumes from constituents to place in the Congressional record. He ended up getting 10,000.
Not wanting to get too much into Jackson’s personal turmoil (blind can’t lead the blind and no sense in beat downs while dude is half dead on the ground), it does stand to point out the shenanigans that took place during his brief re-elected moment. Constituents felt outright played; perhaps that’s justified as Jackson scalped more than a duffel bag of wolf tickets throughout.
First it was the disappearance, as if he was the fictitious Congressman Brody in Showtime’s Homeland. In that psychoanalytic hot soup terrorism mind job, we watch with amazement as the Brody character goes dark for days at a time – while still in Congress. Jackson seemed to play this out, leaving one to wonder what federal facility and interrogation room he spent time in. But, lo and behold it was in a clinic while immersed in bipolar disorder. Translated: what happens when the feds are on your ass for ethics and campaign finance violations or when the wrath of a scorned wife is in the form of relentless open-handed slaps on the jaw.
That’s all up for speculation and the despicable reality TV show rumor mill. But, what was just as fascinating was the resolve and downright stubborn pride of 2 nd district constituents who stood by Jackson through not just days or weeks … but, months – up until the moment he resigned mere days after getting re-elected … after not even campaigning for the seat. In terms of pure hardball politics, that was an amazing feat of campaign acrobatics.
What’s more interesting is how the district pretty much stood by and re-elected him with over 60% of the vote.
It says a lot about this majority Black district and where its head might be. Not unlike other majority Black districts and urban political jurisdictions where many voters seem to have a high amount of tolerance for dynasty poli-tricks. In the case of Jackson, his family presumes a Jackson will reign supreme atop the 2 nd District political machine till apocalypse. Wife Sandi Jackson, an always D.C.-bound city Alderwoman who is rarely seen in her ward, is mulling a bid (which the husband should oblige). Brother Jonathan Jackson, a Chicago State University professor, is also mulling a bid. Some whispers include Deals are already being cut – see that warehouse second season scene from Boss in which a moderate Republican upstart must pay political street “shadow bosses” to get out the vote.