Jesse L. Jackson said yesterday that Democratic Party leaders are attempting to attract white male voters by "proving they can be tough on blacks" and that blacks must now reassess their loyalty to the party.
Jackson said Democratic leaders, rebuilding after President Reagan's landslide election victory, are engaging in "self-deception" by failing to understand the reasons for their defeat and failing to recognize that blacks, the young, women, Hispanics, Asians and the poor are the future of the party.
Jackson had harsh words for party leaders, including new chairman Paul G. Kirk Jr., and made it clear he will not even recognize the election of Roland W. Burris, the black Illinois state comptroller who defeated Gary Mayor Richard G. Hatcher for the vice chairmanship. Hatcher was the choice of the party's Black Caucus and was Jackson's campaign chairman.
"I assume Roland has his own constituency since he went outside of the black people in the party," Jackson said. "I will not affirm the product of the violation" of the Black Caucus.
Jackson, defeated by Walter F. Mondale for the party's 1984 presidential nomination, said he will deal with the national party through Kirk and Black Caucus Chairman C. Delores Tucker, rather than Burris.
However, Jackson also accused Kirk of attempting to "gain in stature at the expense of blacks" by opposing the Black Caucus nominee. Hatcher's defeat was viewed by some party leaders as a rebuke to Jackson.
Jackson, 43, was interviewed in his hospital room where he is recuperating from pneumonia and a partially collapsed lung.
"There is a scheme to have the party to prove its manhood to whites by showing its capacity to be unkind to blacks," Jackson said. He said he is advising black Democrats to "reassess their relationship with the party." If the pattern of denial of blacks continues, he said, blacks -- the party's most loyal voting bloc -- will leave the party and become independents.
Democratic Party leaders are trying to rebuild without knowing why they lost to Reagan, Jackson said.
"The new direction the Democratic Party is following is one of self-deception," he said, "and that is not how you win elections.
"The political growth industry in this nation is in the poor, females, young people, blacks, Hispanics, Asians," Jackson said. "That's the growth market. To try to read into Reagan's victory white male dominance is wrong."
The future of the party, he said, is in addressing the "laws of organization -- identifying needs, and servicing needs to develop a loyal constituency."
"We now have 40 million people in poverty looking for new ideas," he said. "We have middle-class parents who can't afford to send their children to college. That's a need. Americans living in fear of nuclear holocaust. That's a need. Others who want urban American revitalized, other Americans who feel acutely shamed by the government's relationship with South Africa. The Democratic Party has to find a combination of leaders who can arouse people with ideas, on the issues."
Jackson said Kirk's election without support from New York, California, the southern states or blacks is a continuation of the Mondale-labor coalition that lost the last election. "Kirk inherited Mondale's legacy; he won on the muscle of organized labor," Jackson said.
Jackson said organized labor was guilty of "scapegoating" blacks by orchestrating Hatcher's defeat with arguments that special-interest groups, such as blacks, should not dominate the party.
"I have not heard from the party one rational analysis of why the party lost," Jackson said. The party lost, he said, "because it was an election between one candidate who was popular and one who was not, one leader who was charismatic and one who was not. One candidate said he would raise taxes if he won, an idea so unpopular he couldn't coerce some Democratic leaders to get on the stage with him. Democratic candidates were running for office and saying 'I am not a Mondale Democrat.'
"White males were led away from the party by Democratic white males," Jackson said. He said many prominent Democrats deserted Mondale, including Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.), Sen. Howell Heflin (D-Ala.), Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and former North Carolina governor James B. Hunt, who lost his Senate race against Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).
Jackson said the record black voter turnout -- about 10 percent of the national turnout and higher in several large states -- almost all went for Democratic candidates and "should be seen as a party asset and not a liability."
While the black vote could not stop the Reagan landslide, Jackson said, it "cut his coattails" by helping Gore, Heflin, Simon and Levin to win Senate seats and carrying Democratic candidates for state office to victory despite Reagan's triumph.
Jackson said the party now is in danger of losing the allegiance of black voters because "the bird in hand is being sacrificed for the bird in the bush without realizing how much the two birds have in common . . . . You don't have to give up one to get the other."
Jackson said he is urging black Democrats to reassess their relationship with the party. He said black voters are becoming independents and shifting from party politics to voting rights enforcement and voter registration.
"Blacks and Hispanics tend to win according to boundary lines, not party lines," Jackson said. "So the Rainbow will keep its focus on voting rights enforcement because that is the jugular vein of new politics in this country . . . . Both parties reject power for minorities. So we will get a new lever on power and win without the parties . . . . When you can win, then other folks want to coalesce with you . . . . More and more, blacks have to go around the chicanery of the machinery, and if you can win without the party, it puts you in position to rework your position within the party."
Jackson contended that the party's movement away from blacks is part of a national wave against fair treatment for blacks. He said, for example, Bernhard H. Goetz was not indicted for shooting four minority youths in the subway.
"The climate in the country is cold for black people," he said. "It amounts to a cultural conspiracy . . . . People are starting to look at blacks like maybe something is wrong with these people . . . . There is nothing wrong with blacks demanding a humane foreign policy or sensible defense spending or protesting budget cuts that leave them unprotected or asking for a good education. We will not back down."