The Rev. Jesse Jackson, seeking to assure that he and his political agenda are not dismissed at this month's Democratic National Convention, announced Saturday that he will force convention delegates to vote on 12 controversial issues that he has advocated.
The minority planks, which Jackson had sought unsuccessfully to have included in the platform approved last weekend by a party committee in Denver, range from freezing military spending and raising taxes of the wealthy to pledging no first use of nuclear weapons.
Some Issues Sensitive
Some, such as a tax increase, are points on which the party is particularly sensitive. When 1984 nominee Walter F. Mondale supported a tax hike, he was pummeled on the issue by Republicans.
Other issues that Jackson is pressing involve large new commitments to social spending and budgeting less for defense, which are also areas where Republicans have attacked Democrats in the past.
Jackson dismissed suggestions that, at a time when the party is seeking to surround its presidential nomination of Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis with a show of unity, his move could be seen as divisiveness.
"That's an unfair accusation. It's expansiveness," he said. "We grow through debate and deliberation.
"We can have unity without uniformity," Jackson added. "And in this process, we win some issues and we lose some. We inform and inspire the whole convention as well as the nation."
Jackson's chances of winning on any of the issues are slim. He will control roughly 1,100 delegates at the convention--about 1,000 less than Dukakis.
Success Not Considered
Asked whether the campaign expects to prevail on any of the votes, Ron Brown, Jackson's convention manager, said: "That wasn't part of the consideration" in deciding whether to press the issues.
California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, the campaign's national chairman, said the minority planks span "the entire Jackson agenda. . . . That agenda must run its full course."
Jackson announced his plans at a news conference at his home here, after he met with a small group of his closest advisers.
He added that he has had no indication that his meeting with Dukakis in Boston on Monday will be anything more than "a social evening." The two candidates and their wives plan to dine together and attend a Boston Pops concert.
Not Expected Choice
There has been some speculation that Dukakis may inform Jackson of his decision regarding a running mate. Although Jackson has repeatedly insisted that he has "earned consideration" for the second spot on the ticket, he is not expected to be Dukakis' choice.
Although the party platform often does not have much concrete significance--it may easily be ignored if a candidate chooses to do so once in office--it takes on enormous symbolism as the party's effort to let voters know the principles for which it stands.
Jackson initially had sought a platform far more detailed than the relatively brief, thematic document approved by the platform committee last week.
Among the other issues that Jackson will take to the convention floor are: doubling education spending, pledging continued full funding of welfare and preschool education programs, expanding government-provided health care, imposing a unilateral moratorium on testing of nuclear warheads and missile flights and calling for Palestinian self-determination.