#2 The Congressional Black Caucus is falling down on the job: the betrayal of Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard

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The Congress of the United States is an undemocratic fiefdom of immense complexity, just like the federal government it oversees, which takes years to navigate with any degree of functional dexterity and a lifetime to completely master.  Even then, the member will still be a staff driven drone, indistinguishable one from the other to the general public.

The Congress of the United States is also a cocoon of ostentatious privilege that envelopes a member like a fly in a spider’s web.  Slowly and imperceptibly, like a spider, which slowly drains the life from its prey, the ostentatious power and privilege of a member of congress similarly drains the humanity out of the member until they are nothing but an emotionally paralyzed, dead husk, useless to each other and their constituents.

Even the Capitol itself is a Byzantine monstrosity.  Its confusing cornucopia of offices, formal spaces, and hideaways, mirror the Federal Government bureaucracy it symbolizes. Into this fantasy like world of power and prestige step the forty-three members of the CBC. I have spent the majority of my life in awe of these people, deluded into believing them Black symbols of excellence. On the contrary, they are mere mortals like the rest of us imperfect children of God.

The CBC is quick to stand up for the righteous principle of black representation when they feel an individual threat, but they were AWOL in 2002, 2004, and 2006 when those principles were heavily on the line in key races in Maryland(Mfume and Wynn), Georgia(McKinney), Texas(Rodriguez), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has their Uncle Tom’s too, and Alabama(Hillard). 

In honor of the September centennial anniversary of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riots, the political establishment, led by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, decided to launch another riot, as they did a century ago, to decapitate strong black leadership. Their target: Cynthia McKinney. This was a continuation of the racial assault launched against her four years ago when she and Earl Hilliardlost their seats to trojan horse corporate whores, Denise Majette and Artur Davis.

Left out of the racist media profiles of Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard, is a fair assessment of the history of struggle for black representation.  Clara Bingham, author of “Women on the Hill” wrote, “When the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965, the democratically controlled legislature tried to fight it by redistricting to maximize Democratic and white political power while minimizing black influence.” She also wrote that, “Racial bloc voting was the norm in Georgia. A 1989 survey showed that 86 percent of whites voted for the white opponents of black candidates.”  Into this breach, stepped then State Representative Cynthia McKinney in 1991. 

Again, Bingham writes, ” In July 1991, Cynthia, as a member of the legislature’s reapportionment committee, introduced the maximum black plan, or “Max Plan.” Her plan rewrote district lines, significantly  expanding the number of state legislative and congressional districts with a population that was more than half-black, assuring the election of a black candidate…”The Georgia Democratic Party resisted Cynthia’s plan.”

After two failed attempts and Justice Department rejection of redistricting plans that diluted black voting strength, Georgia passed Cynthia’s plan and she ran for Congress in the district she drew and won.  Earl Hillard played the same lead role in redistricting in Alabama.

The racist assault on majority-minority districts continued and Cynthia fought back. Those that opposed these efforts challenged her district and it was redrawn, reducing its black majority. She and Hilliard continued to win elections until they ran afoul of the Israel Lobby. Cynthia’s and Earl’s position on other issues mattered very little to the Lobby. Their districts were inundated with out-of-state money for trojan-horse candidates more compliant with a corporate or pro-Israel agenda.

Denise Majette, Cynthia’s trojan horse successor in 2002 campaigned on a platform of repealing estate taxes for the richest among us. Cynthia’s successor this year openly courted pro-Israel donors and slandered her by characterizing her as  anti-Israel.  Artur Davis, Earl Hilliard’s 2002 opponent did the same, even speaking before this year’s AIPAC conference in Washington.  Neither Cynthia or Hillard supports terrorists or the killing of innocent people by either side in the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

The CBC failed Cynthia and Earl, despite the tepid support they gave, by not doing more to defend the right of African American constituencies to choose representation that reflects their values.  The entire black caucus had a moral obligation to come together and defend them.  Neither received the support they deserved from every member of the CBC. They chose instead to look the other way and surrender to the the forces of anti-black reaction and aggressive pro-Israeli militarism.

For this, they are to be condemned.

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