The Contenders: If He Hadn't Run, Hillary Would've Already Won the Presidency

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Why you should care

Because Obama would never have become president if it weren’t for this man, and the reason has nothing to do with race.

Learn more about Jesse Jackson’s trailblazing 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns by watching The Contenders: 16 for ’16, a new TV series from OZY about the men and women who have run the ultimate political gauntlet in pursuit of the most powerful job on Earth. It airs every Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST this fall on PBS.

Ah, the 2008 Democratic primary. Remember that? As the race for 2016 goes on, we take a look back at what really happened in the epic battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the first would-be female president and the first would-be African-American president. The nation was riveted. The world was obsessed. And soon enough, because we couldn’t get enough, we all learned more about delegates than we ever thought possible.

In an interview with OZY’s co-founder Carlos Watson, the Rev. Jesse Jackson explains how his 1988 presidential campaign fits into a larger narrative about the expansion of the right to vote, and how he “democratized democracy” by changing the way delegates were awarded in the Democratic primaries. Ultimately, those delegates (and the bigger-deal superdelegates) decided the outcome in 2008, giving Barack Obama his shot at becoming the 44th president of the United States.

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The route to the White House: news, stories and analysis from on and off the presidential campaign trail.