Al on America.by Reverend Al Sharpton Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton Jr. (born October 3, 1954) is an American Baptist minister and political, civil rights, and social justice activist. In 2004, Sharpton was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U. S. presidential election. with Karen Hunter Dafina/Kensington, October 2002 $27.00, ISBN ISBN
International Standard Book Number
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m 0-758-20350-0
We can blame Jimmy Carter for inventing the campaign book and Bill Clinton for popularizing it. Thanks to them, each new presidential season begins--not with photo ops--but with new titles on bookstore shelves. With the election more than 18 months away, the Reverend Al Sharpton got the jump on other Democratic contenders with the release of Al on America.
Although he has hinted that he might run for the White House, Sharpton makes his intentions clear in Al on America: "I am an American who believes that America can and should work for all its citizens. I am a freedom fighter who believes that there can be justice for all. I am a father who believes that every child deserves the right to a good education.... I am a person who loves people and believes peace is possible. And it is on those qualities that I am seeking the presidency of the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. in 2004."
Like every other book in this category, Al on America is long on political platitudes and short on realistic public policy. Throughout the book the reverend proudly flaunts his old-school brand of liberalism. Although he steers clear of specific campaign promises, he endorses a number of broad principles that come straight from the most marginalized corners of the Democratic Party. Government subsidized health care: check. Full funding for Head Start: check. Equal funding for suburban, rural and urban public schools: check. Higher estate taxes on the wealthy: of course. Abolition of the death penalty: yep. It's all here.
Refreshingly, Sharpton is willing to own up to past endorsements, which could mar his (Jesse) Jacksonian resume. For example, he notes that after the 1986 drug related death of college basketball College basketball most often refers to the American basketball competitive governance structure established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA. History
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. effect on poor African Americans, Sharpton's biggest constituency. In hindsight, he admits, supporting mandatory minimums was a mistake.
While some voters will embrace Sharpton's platform, especially those African Americans old enough to remember marching with Martin, most voters will probably not. And since the reverend never discusses how he plans to appeal to white voters and conservative Democrats who twice elected Clinton, an obvious question arises: Is Sharpton really interested in occupying the White House, or does he merely want to spank the Democrats for neglecting its core supporters?
The answer lies at the heart of the chapter titled "Kingmaker king·mak·er
One who has the political power to influence the selection of a candidate for high public office.
king ? New York's 2001 Mayor's Race." Although filled with personalities and subtle nuances that might have little resonance outside the New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. area, the chapter is a look at what can happen when blacks and Latinos strategically withhold their votes from a Democratic candidate. The chapter reads like a political morality tale, the upshot of which is this: Most of New York's black leaders, including Sharpton, decided to support a Latino Democrat for mayor over one of the party's brightest stars, who was white. In response, the white candidate played the race card, and used white voters' fears about Sharpton to scare up to find by search, as if by beating for game.
See also: Scare support for himself. When the Latino was sent packing after the primaries, Sharpton and others openly refused to unite behind the party's white candidate. And a moderate Republican won the general election. "To this day," Sharpton writes, "I feel that the Democratic Party had to be taught a lesson, and still has to be taught one nationally"
Perhaps he's running to teach them a lesson. Ironically, the book--which reads as if Sharpton dictated it into a tape recorder, then had it transcribed--highlights the minister's effectiveness as an outside agitator ag·i·ta·tor
1. One who agitates, especially one who engages in political agitation.
2. An apparatus that shakes or stirs, as in a washing machine.
Noun 1. . Jesse Jackson, one of Sharpton's mentors, once filled a similar role. After his second bid for the White House. However, Jackson became a neutralized Democratic Party insider who had little credibility on the streets. Those who remember this history should have no interest in repeating it.
--E. Assata Wright is a freelance writer living in Jersey City, N.J.