In his article for Loop21, “Now Is Not the Time To Lose Love For CBC and the President”, James Perry, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (and hubby of Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry) takes the recent bravado of Congressional Black Caucus members (particularly Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Maxine Waters) to task:
“Providing an answer is no easy task. However, some CBC members have sought to lay the blame squarely on President Obama’s shoulders. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Ca.), suggested voters “unleash” the Democrats on President Obama. Congressman and CBC Chairman, Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), addressed the issue commenting that if things were this bad under another president, then “we probably would be marching on the White House.”
But the truth is just the opposite. Things have been this bad before. And black voters did not march on the White House lawn, instead they worked on behalf of the Democratic Party to claim the White House. Precedent suggests that when there is a black candidate and high unemployment, black Americans are most likely to exercise the most important tool allotted to any citizen in a democracy: the vote.”
“The lesson, of course, is that black voters are an exceedingly loyal bunch. Members of the CBC are well schooled in this lesson. Many members’ careers depend on it. Most CBC members represent districts that are overwhelming poor and overwhelming black. Even in the best economic times, the unemployment statistics in most CBC districts are remarkably high.
Neighborhoods in CBC districts are often times marred with high crime, high drop out rates, high teen pregnancy, poor health care, low wealth and high blight. Despite these dire truths, black members of Congress who represent black districts are among the members of Congress that are least likely to lose re-election bids.
For example Maxine Waters, a member of Congress since 1991, represents Los Angeles. At every point during Waters’ term in Congress, the poverty rate in Los Angeles has been higher than the national average. And data bare similar results in Harlem, Detroit, Chicago, Houston and many other majority black districts with black Congressional representation.
The bottom line is simple. The dreadful circumstances that exist in communities represented by CBC members are not new. In fact, in these districts, despair is the norm. If an elected official is required to show substantial rage because circumstances are appallingly hopeless in their district, then few if any CBC members have a right to express new found rage at President Obama. The rage of CBC members should permeate as a constant across the entire tenure of most members.”