Today on Critical Thinking in the Real World, I interviewed Rev. Isaac Hayes, candidate for U.S. Congress from the 2nd District of Illinois. Hayes is hoping to unseat Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Illinois) and it looks as if he is a man who can win this tough fight.
The jury has yet to render a verdict in the Rod Blagojevich political corruption case, but Rep. Jackson has frequently been tied to the former Illinois governor and his alleged attempts to sell President Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Prosecutors argue, “Jackson became aware of the effort to buy his appointment on Oct. 28, 2008 at a meeting in Chicago’s 312 restaurant.” He denies this and has said, “I reject the pay to play politics and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing.” Jackson has never been charged with anything, but the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has listed Rep. Jackson as one of the 15 most corrupt members of Congress. Will Jackson’s ties with Blagojevich negatively impact him at election time?
This is a large anti-incumbent sentiment among frustrated Americans throughout the nation. Voters are tired of politics as usual and want true change. As ethics scandals plague politicians, will voters take a risk and vote for someone new or hope for reform from career politicians?
Rev. Isaac Hayes, in contrast to Jackson, has not had a privileged upbringing. Hayes grew up in the Woodlawn community on the South Side of Chicago. He put himself through college at Illinois State University. He has spent much of his life working and engaging in community service.
Rep. Jackson has held his office since 1995 and is the eldest son of famed Civil Rights activist and Rainbow PUSH Coalition President Rev. Jesse Jackson. He was born in Greenville, South Carolina and spent his early years in the Jackson Park Highlands District of the South Shore community area on the South Side of Chicago. Jackson went to the Le Mans Military Academy in Waterford, Wisconsin and then to the elite college prepatory St. Albans in Washington, DC for high school. He graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. He earned his Master of Arts Degree in Theology from the Chicago Theological Seminary, and then his Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law.
Will the fact that Hayes is running as a republican help or handicap his chances? The National Republican Congressional Committee has invited Hayes to join its young guns program and that is significant for this virtually unknown candidate. Even with the Republican National Committee’s support, Hayes faces a tough challenge. Jackson won the last election with more than 80 percent of the vote and both of Jackson’s predecessors left the office surrounded by ethical scandals.
Are Illinois voters willing to cross party lines for change?