Jesse Jackson presidential campaign, 1984
In the primaries, Jackson, who had been written off by pundits as a fringe candidate with little chance at winning the nomination, surprised many when he took third place behind Senator Gary Hart and former Vice President Walter Mondale, who eventually won the nomination. Jackson garnered 3,282,431 primary votes, or 18.2 percent of the total, in 1984, and won five primaries and caucuses, including Louisiana, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, Virginia, and one of two separate contests in Mississippi.
As he had gained 21% of the popular vote but only 8% of delegates, he afterwards complained that he had been handicapped by party rules. While Mondale (in the words of his aides) was determined to establish a precedent with his vice presidential candidate by picking a woman or visible minority, Jackson criticized the screening process as a "p.r. parade of personalities". He also mocked Mondale, saying that Hubert Humphrey was the "last significant politician out of the St. Paul–Minneapolis" area.
In both races, Jackson ran on what many considered to be a very liberal platform. Declaring that he wanted to create a "Rainbow Coalition" of various minority groups, including African Americans, Hispanics, Arab-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, family farmers, the poor and working class, and homosexuals, as well as white progressives who fit into none of those categories, Jackson ran on a platform that included:
- creating a Works Progress Administration-style program to rebuild America's infrastructure and provide jobs to all Americans,
- reprioritizing the War on Drugs to focus less on mandatory minimum sentences for drug users (which he views as racially biased) and more on harsher punishments for money-laundering bankers and others who are part of the "supply" end of "supply and demand"
- reversing Reaganomics-inspired tax cuts for the richest ten percent of Americans and using the money to finance social welfare programs
- cutting the budget of the Department of Defense by as much as fifteen percent over the course of his administration
- declaring Apartheid-era South Africa to be a rogue nation
- instituting an immediate nuclear freeze and beginning disarmament negotiations with the Soviet Union
- giving reparations to descendants of black slaves
- supporting family farmers by reviving many of Roosevelt's New Deal–era farm programs
- creating a single-payer system of universal health care
- ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment
- increasing federal funding for lower-level public education and providing free community college to all
- applying stricter enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and
- supporting the formation of a Palestinian state.
With the exception of a resolution to implement sanctions against South Africa for its apartheid policies, none of these positions made it into the party's platform in either 1984 or 1988.
- Purnick, Joyce, and Michael Oreskes. "Jesse Jackson Aims for the Mainstream". The New York Times, vember 29, 1987
- "1984 Texas Jackson-for-President Campaign Collection: An Inventory of Records at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library"
- Thomas, Evan. "Trying to Win the Peace", Time, July 2, 1984