Last week in Washington was amazing! Thousands of the most articulate and well-dressed African Americans in the nation descended on our city. These dear people were the Congressional Black Caucus’ (CBC) faithful followers, admiring friends, or earnest people looking for information and empowerment. Their trust in the CBC is based on the memory that older blacks were courageous political crusaders who set out to change the nation by being advocates for their people.
The vision of the original 13 members was “to promote the public welfare through legislation designed to meet the needs of millions of neglected citizens.” The CBC official website says, “The Caucus received its first national recognition when its members met with former President Richard Nixon in March, 1971 and presented him a list of 60 recommendations for governmental action on domestic and foreign issues.” Unfortunately, times have changed and so has the CBC. Today’s CBC, like so many of our national institutions, has fallen on hard times. In fact, it doesn’t seem as though they have had any new ideas for decades.
Therefore, many of my colleagues and I were shocked by the president’s flattery and hyperbole concerning the CBC’s service to the black community. In fact, the Los Angeles Times ran a headline that heightened my concerns, “Obama Salutes Black Caucus as the ‘Conscience’ of the U.S. Congress.” As the title of the article implied, the president affirmed the original intent of the organization and its current direction. In fact, he even went farther than that. He was commissioning them as his foot soldiers for the midterm elections.
Despite the president’s glowing endorsement, an objective assessment of the organization’s last decade shows they have strayed far from their mission. Therefore President Obama seems to be guilty of affirming a miscreant group for great campaigning, while ignoring their hypocritical lifestyles.
What do I mean by miscreant? First of all, the CBC has sold its collective souls to the Democratic Party. Blind allegiance is the only way to describe these Democratic loyalists. This blind allegiance prevents the black community from becoming a powerful swing vote that barters for great legislation, breakthrough policies, and targeted community programs. Instead, the CBC has only brought “scraps” back to its community. Even though the president has recently promised $850 million in federal spending over 10 years for historically black colleges and universities, it sounds like political pandering. This is just enough to keep naive African Americans on the political plantation through the mid-term and next presidential elections.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
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