The Reverend Jesse Jackson was ahead of his time.
Back in 1984, when he first* ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, I was in college at the University of Iowa, and damn, was I psyched to take part in my first caucus. Double damn was I psyched at the prospect of a black U.S. president. He never had a chance in hell.
We were going on four years of Reagan at that point, and though you’d never know it based on the Gipper’s current lionization, he was not popular. His approval rating in 1983 was at 35 percent, lower even than George W. Bush in his second term (37 percent). And it’s no wonder. We were in a recession—well, supposedly just out of a recession, but really in one of those postrecessions that really, really still seems like a recession. (Sound familiar?) People were suffering, losing their jobs, their houses, their farms, their savings. (Sound familiar?) Meanwhile Reagan continued to call for tax cuts on the rich on the theory that this would stimulate job growth and the economy. (Sound familiar?) He also called for the U.S. to be king of the world and, I guess just to put some skin in the game, invaded the tiniest country in the Western Hemisphere.