Use of racial politics exposes both Republicans and Democrats

Rainbow PUSH Coalition

President Donald Trump’s former chief political advisor and strategist Steve Bannon said, “If race is the issue, we win.” So we see Trump’s obsession with blaming everything on former President Barack Obama, or attacking Colin Kaepernick, Jemelle Hill, Steph Curry and other African Americans. The only way Republicans can currently win elections is by cheating (e.g., gerrymandering in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania) or using voter suppression tactics (identifying more health care for more Americans, such as the Affordable Care Act – or “Obamacare” – with race, or supporting restrictive voter ID laws, cutbacks in early voting, elimination of same-day on-site voter registration and other deliberate racially inspired voter suppression tactics as in North Carolina and Texas).

Now we see Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has joined in this racist strategy with his J.B. Pritzker commercial which is designed to divide the Black community and get African American leaders to attack Pritzker and abandon him.

But what the anti-Pritzker commercial actually reveals is that the Democrat was also engaged in playing racial politics to suppress the Black vote. At the time of the phone conversation between Pritzker and Gov. Blagojevich, Jesse Jackson Jr. was not under any federal investigation and was the very popular congressman for the Second Congressional District of Illinois. If Jackson had been the Democratic senatorial nominee, there would have been a huge Black and south suburban voter turnout and not just because Jackson was African American.

While Mayor Richard M. Daley and Pritzker had political and economic interests in hotels in downtown Chicago and by O’Hare Airport, Jackson was focused on the underdeveloped South Suburban communities that were attempting to convince the governor, the mayor and Mr. Pritzker to build an airport in the South Suburbs that would have employed many thousands of workers of all races and genders in new businesses so that the masses of people living in that area might have good jobs, an economic future, a stable and growing tax base to fund good schools, and balanced economic growth in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Unfortunately, like all good Monopoly players, Pritzker has placed all of his hotels downtown on “Boardwalk” and near O’Hare Airport where rent is high. And if we land on his property we will pay a premium. He has not indicated his support for building the South Suburban Airport or offered a jobs and economic development plan comparable to building the new airport. I gave the airport to Democrats – e.g., Blagojevich and others – who have not indicated they want to build it, and now Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has it.

Pritzker has not called to offer Jackson a personal apology, nor has one been sought. However, more than a personal apology, Pritzker owes the entire African American community an apology for denigrating Barack Obama, Emil Jones, Jesse White and Jackson in a private conversation that has now become public – and there could be more to come. Pritzker was playing racial politics in pursuit of his narrow economic interests. The African American community must reject being misused by white politicians in the political game of racial politics by Republicans or Democrats.

Jesse Jackson Jr. contributed to this column.

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. is the founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He can be reached through


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