The Congressional Black Caucus is one of he most reliably Democrat organizations in politics. This has created a “go along to get along” mentality, which often fails to serve the black community has too often been the operational motif of the CBC. Part of that is due to a generational gap between the membership in the CBC and groups and organizations in the black community increasingly started and led by millennials, The other part of that dysfunction has to do with the Faustian bargain with conservative Republicans which essentially created “Black Zones”, principally concentrated in urban areas. A long term loosing proposition because of gentrification, and black flight to the suburban areas. Leaving the largest population of black folks in the US without representation, as black lawmakers respond to a steadily decreasing urban base, and urban issues.
On the flip side, the artificial gerrymandered whitening of the Districts surrounding urban areas provides ample fodder for white Republican candidates who cannot win in a district with above 20% minority population, and who are either diametrically opposed to the black/minority community, or see no political interest in serving it’s interests. Encouraging racial politics, and enabling a Republican majority in the House far beyond what any general vote totals would accord. The most egregious recent example of which is North Carolina.
The result of this is that the CBC ill serves those groups of black folks who either don’t live in the urban center, or whose educational, economic, and professional interests extend beyond asking for a welfare check. Ergo the very people driving black economic empowerment and inclusion into the social fabric of the nation. The very people who are the center of Color of Change and the BLM movements.
The group has failed to connect with young voters, which is not a good sign for its future.
On January 25, 1972, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, announced her candidacy for president in a stump speech that sounded very much like those of today’s presidential candidates. Shetold the Brooklyn crowd, “I am not the candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special interests. I stand here now without endorsements from many big name politicians or celebrities or any other kind of prop.” She also stood there without the support of the Congressional Black Caucus, which she helped found the previous year. The reason? Some of the CBC’s members thought Chisholm’s focus on gender and outreach to other groups subverted the caucus’s mission and explicit focus on race.
Four decades later, Representative Donna Edwards sought to become the first black senator from Maryland and only the second black woman ever elected to the body. Like Chisholm, she also did not enjoy the explicit support of the CBC. Edwards confronted CBC members, and they cited her “difficult nature” and failure to establish good relationships as reasons for not endorsing her. On Tuesday, Edwards lost her bid for the Senate seat in a close primary race that may have turned out differently if she’d received the endorsement from more members of the nation’s most powerful body of black legislators.
Among young African Americans, there is a growingsense that there are significant generational differences with the CBC and that the organization may have lost its conscience. Hillary Clinton has taken heat for the 1994 crime bill that led to the disproportionate incarceration of black people, but the bill was only assured passageonce the CBC withdrew its opposition. CBC members have clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters. And activists have criticized the CBC Political Action Committee, a separate but associated group, for the board’s ties to private prisons and big tobacco.
While some of these criticisms are valid, there is little question that the CBC is of immense value to African Americans and the nation at large. For decades, it’s been the organ through which the concerns of black Americans have entered the halls of Congress and the means by which policy victories have been delivered for disenfranchised minority communities. There is simply no doubting that the interests of black America remain central to the caucus’s aims. But there is also little doubt that the black electorate is changing, and the CBC will have to keep pace with this evolution if it wants to remain relevant to black Americans…
Protest is very much a part of the CBC’s character—many of today’s CBC members are contemporaries of the civil-rights movement. It would seem that today’s protest movements would be fertile ground for CBC goals. But many of today’s black activists are not as interested in what they see as respectability politics or dressing in their Sunday best for protests like their civil-rights-era predecessors. They are taking the stage whenever they choose and demanding that presidential candidates hear them. They are challenging leaders from previous generations, and some of those leaders don’t necessarily like it. In the black community, where eldership is revered, the boldness of today’s protesters has rubbed some CBC members the wrong way. Many black activists don’t care; they are less concerned with paying homage to elected officials and more interested in expedient policy outcomes…Read the Rest Here…