Get Ready for a Black Congress
There is a quiet revolution about to happen on November 7. Few in the media or electorate have paid any attention to it. Because I would so like to see it happen, I am reluctant to speak of it for fear that it will freak out the wrong people and thus prevent it from occurring.
No, I'm not talking about my fantasy that 100 million nonvoters will turn out to vote for Ralph, or that great Cheney rumor floating around the web (the one where he drops out the week before the election and Bush appoints Colin Powell), or the other great rumor about George W. paying a visit to Reagan on his deathbed (Who starts this stuff? Keep it up!).
What I am referring to is the STRONG possibility that the U.S. House of Representatives is about to be taken over by... African Americans!
That's right. After 200+ years of white guys running Congress and occupying the White House, get ready for "The Black House!"
In a scenario that might make D.W. Griffith return from the grave and demand the sequel rights to "Birth of a Nation," the black members of Congress are about to fall into a palace coup and make every redneck and racist run for cover.
The Democrats are only 6 seats shy of winning back control of the House. All indications are such, thanks to so many Republican incumbents choosing not to run for reelection this year (and the back-to-back suicide moves by the Republicans to shut down the federal government and then overthrow a popularly-elected President), the Democrats may just pull it off.
The ace card, which Democratic members are privately cheering on, is Ralph Nader. I have spoken to aides of a half dozen members of Congress and they are all convinced that Nader's presence on the ballot is going to bring out millions of voters who had planned on not voting. If that happens, once in the voting booth, who do you think those disgruntled, pro-Nader voters are going to plunk down for when they gaze down at the section for "Member of Congress" on the ballot? The Republican? I don't think so. Because the Greens have so few candidates running for Congress, those Nader voters are going to vote for the Democrat for Congress.
The 1994 election that gave the House to Newt and the Republicans was decided in 19 districts where the Republican won by a thousand or so votes. A few Nader voters could make all the difference.
So how does that put African Americans in control of the House?
Thanks to the seniority they have accumulated, no fewer than TWENTY-TWO members of the Congressional Black Caucus stand to take over the chairmanships of 22 House committees and subcommittees!
That's right. If the Democrats get the House back, Rep. John Conyers of Detroit will become the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Charles Rangel of New York will be the chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. And Rep. Julian Dixon of California will head up the House Intelligence Committee.
Three of the most important committees in Congress will be led by African Americans for the first time in our history.
But wait. It gets better.
Nineteen -- yes, 19 -- subcommittees in the House of Representatives will have as their chairmen/chairwomen 19 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus!
How cool is that? I never thought I would live to see such a thing. In a week where I have just read that the black household median income is $27,000 compared to $44,000 for whites, where I read that ONE-THIRD of African American men between the ages of 18 and 35 are prohibited from voting in this election because of our bigoted judicial system, for me to then hear that nearly two dozen African Americans might be calling the shots next year in Congress was the kind of good news that rarely comes my way.
Of course, it's not just that they are black. These 22 members of Congress have, for the most part, consistently voted for labor, women's rights, education, controls on corporations, cleaning up the environment and standing firm against free/sweatshop trade bills. They are the first to question U.S. meddling into the affairs of other countries, and the last to send our young people off to war.
The Black House, my friends, is a good thing for all of us.
This pending revolt actually goes beyond the Black Caucus. There is also the Progressive Caucus in the House, a group of 60 or so left-wing Democrats. And if the Dems get the House, four members of the Progressive Caucus will become committee chairmen and TWENTY-EIGHT others will take over as chair of their subcommittees! There is some overlap between these two caucuses, but it's safe to say that, combined, there will be 6 powerful committees chaired by the Black and Progressive Caucuses and at least 35 subcommittees in the hands of people who will represent the first line of defense against a Bush (or a Gore) presidency. Wow.
As you know from my previous letters, I see little or no difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties. They both are there to do the bidding of Big Business, and the Democrats have gone so far to the right they should just call themselves Pro-Choice Republicans.
But this issue of the Democrats getting the House back is a different matter. Much to the chagrin of many Democrats, these House committees and subcommittees will fall into the hands of the old school liberal New Deal Democrats -- who just happen to be black. There is little the Democratic leadership can do about it because seniority rules.
Which brings up another interesting point. The reason these black Democrats have kept winning their seats is because they stuck to their liberal/left guns, even in the face of a country that was seeming to turn to the right. Those Democrats who thought the way to survive was to sound "more Republican" wound up losing many of their seats. A study conducted by two professors from the University of Utah on that 1994 Congressional election found that it was not the liberals who lost their seats to Newt's army, but the Democrats who were moderates or who changed their position to moderate. The voters aren't stupid. If they want sirloin, they sure as hell aren't going to vote for the hamburger trying to pose as a sirloin.
Of course, if word gets out to all those conservative, reactionary, racist Americans of what is about to occur -- Fear of a Black Planet! -- then they will probably pour out of their sinkholes on election day to vote for the Republicans running for Congress. So be careful who you tell this secret to.
It's been just 137 years since the end of legal slavery in America.
I want to wake up on November 8 and witness the ultimate payback time!