Preachin' To The Choir
From a Saturday Night Live TV show to a pulpit in East Oakland, the Rev. Al Sharpton will take any podium he can get. His populist-driven campaign for president struggles to raise money, but Sharpton stays front and center because of colorful and biting commentary. He did not disappoint his predominately African-American audience in East Oakland. They applauded just as a Saturday Night Live TV studio audience cheered his one-liners when he hosted the show recently.
On Thursday, December 11, Sharpton told several thousand assembled at Allen Temple Baptist Church that they "can't lose" by supporting him because "I will raise your issues at the (Democratic Party) convention. "You should vote for the person who shares your views on the issues," he said. "Stand up for yourself ... we marched for civil rights because we wanted to see what America can become -- not what it is now," he said to a thunderous applause.
Sharpton was there as part of an ongoing forum hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), which allows presidential hopefuls to speak and field questions. "This election is about what direction the nation and the world will take," he said.
Sharpton's base is among blacks who nationwide deliver one in five votes to Democrats. He said the Bush administration wants to turn back the clock on civil rights and too many Democrats support big business over labor. As president, Sharpton said he'd focus on job creation, a single-payer health care plan, repeal the tax cuts, and get out of Iraq. "There's only a recovery on Wall Street, not in middle America ... we have lost 3 million jobs," he said.
Sharpton said Democrats have shifted so far to the right they left their base and allowed Republicans to win elections. "People say I will kill the Democratic Party by taking it too far to the left. We don't control the Congress or the White House. How can you kill what's already dead? We need to resuscitate it."
He criticized his Democratic rivals for failing to speak out against a war he called "one of the greatest acts of deception ever, calling American-backed nation-building in Iraq a step toward world domination and a new form of colonialism. "We were told there was imminent danger from terrorism. That means now. That's like me saying 'you should leave this building now because it's dangerous,' and you go to the parking lot but nothing happens. I would then say 'you all needed some fresh air.'
"We can't find Bin Laden or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," Sharpton said. "I'm not surprised. I can't find the votes Bush said he got in Florida," a reference to the controversial 2000 presidential election.
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