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Midterm elections decimate black political leadership

The absence of black faces in the Senate is not even half the story when it comes to black political fallout from the midterms.

James Clyburn will lose his position as Majority Whip in the House of Representatives
With Roland Burris retiring in Illinois and the failure of the Kendrick Meek campaign, there are now no blacks in the U.S. Senate. What did the midterms signal for the future of black political leadership? The 2010 midterm elections were apparently a repudiation of President Barack Obama’s policies, according to the pundits. But it was also a white-washing of the Senate. Ironically, however, the House of Representatives got a little more black. Three black Congressional hopefuls sailed into office. However, two of those were staunch Republicans. Tea party-backed Tim Scott and Allen West were elected to office. This marks the first time African Americans will represent the GOP in Congress in about seven years -- when J.C. Watts retired.
Watts -- much like West and Scott -- came into office during a Republican congressional sweep. But J.C. Watts was a fiscal conservative. He did turn his back on the Congressional Black Caucus and coined the term “poverty pimps.” However, these new guys are much more suspect. Scott, newly elected from South Carolina, will be the first black Republican in Congress from the Deep South since Reconstruction. His campaign was greatly aided by the endorsement of tea party groups as well as Sarah Palin. When it comes to cultural issues such as stem cell research, immigration and national security, this guy is carrying water for the far right, not black people. West, however, is altogether another situation. This guy takes extreme right principles to a point of near insanity. This Army colonel’s claim to fame is that while in Iraq he fired a gun near an Iraqi prisoner’s head to scare him into giving up information. He was infamously quoted saying that he couldn’t stand President Obama.  West would like to abolish the Department of Education and the IRS. This guy is so extreme the Congressional Black Caucus actually campaigned for the white guy he was running against, trying to keep him out of office. West has accused liberals of racism and called the NAACP "a liberal racist enabler" that has demonstrated a double standard in portraying the tea party as discriminatory while excusing Democratic lawmakers who use insensitive language in describing black candidates. So though these candidates may have pigmentation right, they are absolutely wrong on the issues affecting African Americans. Scott will be a run-of-the-mill Clarence Thomas kind of Republican while West likely be much worse. Equally important are the massive leadership losses in Congress. Fors like Majority Whip James Clyburn will be replaced Republicans. He has since told Politico that he plans on remaining in the Democratic leadership. But as Majority Whip he was essential when it came to moving the President’s agenda forward. “I’m convinced that if we do not have a turnout in minority communities at least equal to our percentage of the voting population,” Clyburn said on the eve of the elections. “We could very well see ourselves turning the clock back on so many issues that were very important to those communities.” According to the Labor Department’s recent jobs report, black unemployment for September was 16.1 percent compared to the 9.6 percent national rate. With Republicans in charge, many black leaders speculate these numbers could get worse. Republicans voted 11 times against legislation that would close loopholes that allow American companies to outsource jobs overseas and eight times to create loopholes that would enable them do so. Other powerful Congressional Black Caucus Committee Chairmen will also be losing their gavels including Rep. Bennie G. Thompson who chairs the Homeland Security, Rep. John Conyers who chairs the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Edolphous Downs who chairs the hugely important Oversight Committee and Rep. Charles Rangel who chairs the Ways and Means Committee. If you looks at subcommittee chairmanships, the CBC will lose another 18 leadership positions to Republicans. This will not only change the dynamics of this Congress, but it puts the White House in an increasingly vulnerable situation. Darrell Issa, who will soon head the Oversight Committee has already signaled he plans to spend a significant amount of time investigating the Obama administration. Issa is likely toinvestigate the Department of Justice over the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, according to Fox News. He will personally target the administration over the alleged Joe Sestak job offer,  over funding for ACORN, and the BP oil spill. Issa has repeatedly questioned the effectiveness of Obama’s disaster response plan. When the White House sent political aides to Florida to deal with the fallout and handle the aftermath, Issa accused Obama of being too concerned with his image. "Rather than streamline the process and focus on ensuring that local officials have access to the resources they are literally begging for, the Obama administration has responded by dispatching campaign aides. It's concerning that the West Wing appears more pre-occupied with the politics and public relations of this crisis, than actually managing it," he said in a statement at the time. But Obama aside, political personalities in general aside, there are more direct ramifications for African Americans. Republicans will attempt to cut back on things vitally important to Blacks such as the unemployment structure (particularly in urban areas), educational subsidies, welfare, criminal justice, and catastrophic health programs. When they talk about cutting spending, slashing back entitlement programs, this is what they mean. And the people who will be directly affected are black. Read the story.