Jonah Goldberg

I'm thinking of a cabal of radical legislators who don't reflect the views of average Americans or even the interests of their own constituents. They use wedge issues, play the race card and push their party to the ideological extreme. They collude with outside activists, many of whom use religion as a Trojan horse for a radical political agenda.

Sound like those perennial paladins of villainy, the congressional GOP? Guess again. This is the Congressional Black Caucus.

The caucus lives in a fantasy in which it is the "conscience of the Congress." Immune to the sort of scrutiny that many other groups receive, it has benefited from the soft bigotry of low expectations for decades.

As The Economist recently noted, gerrymandering and Democratic politics have resulted in a caucus well to the left of black America. Only four of 43 members of the group voted to ban partial-birth abortion in 2003, even though a majority of blacks favored such a ban. Most African-Americans favor school choice, but because the caucus is firmly ensconced in the teacher-union racket, it bars the schoolhouse door to black kids who want a better education via vouchers. A majority of blacks oppose outright racial quotas, but don't tell that to the caucus. Or that blacks are heavily opposed to gay marriage.

Why pick on the blacks in Congress? Because they represent black leadership in America, and it has been on their watch that black America has descended into such a mess.

A slew of new research shows how sorry is the plight of American blacks, most acutely men. Black men, particularly those who do not finish high school, have been falling off a cliff for decades. If you include blacks in prison or not seeking work - which conventional unemployment surveys don't - the true jobless rate for black men in their 20s without a high school diploma is 72 percent. At the height of the economic boom, in 2000, it was still about 65 percent, according to the New York Times. This is twice the rate for white dropouts and three times that of Latinos. A University of California, Berkeley, researcher found that black dropouts in their late 20s are more likely to be in prison than working.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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