Newly elected Representative Allen West may be the third black Republican to join the Congressional Black Caucus as he takes office in January. The caucus has been around for forty years but has been dominated by liberal/Democratic politicians with no desire to work with any conservative policy. They are perfectly comfortable with a sheeple kind of existence in politics - that 90% of black voters vote for Democrats - and they are the only ethic or racial constituency to vote as a solid block. To say that this shows a complete absence of independent thought among black voters doesn't seem to bother the Democratic party, as they are dependent on these voters as the base of the party.
With two newly elected black GOP congressmen, it would be progress for them to join and participate in the caucus.
The Congressional Black Caucus will admit the two newly elected black Republicans from southern states, if they so desire membership.
The all-Democratic caucus had wavered over the issue since Tim Scott of South Carolina and Allen West of Florida were elected last week. Chairwoman Barbara Lee of California had pointed to the group's liberal mission statement as a potential point of conflict.
But in a statement Tuesday, the group said the two would be welcomed if they request membership.
West has said he wants to join to bring a new perspective to the group. Scott hasn't decided but said in an interview Tuesday he's leaning against it.
The 42-member caucus has had two Republican members in its four-decade history. The most recent black Republican in Congress, J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, who retired in 2003, declined to join.
The black caucus includes a handful of moderates but is mostly made up of liberals serving in safe Democratic districts. The addition of Republicans would likely shake up its weekly meetings and require its leaders to navigate around them to discuss strategy.
I thought it was a missed opportunity at the time for Watts to remain outside the Congressional Black Caucus, though it was understandable. Now, with a bi-racial President, our nation's first, who pledged to be a post-racial, post-partisan leader (though he hasn't fulfilled that pledge), it would be a positive sign for a more politically diverse membership to form. As many political candidates from minority populations realize that the Republican party is a natural home for them, culturally and economically, we are on our way as a nation to a better understanding of true diversity.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research ( http://www.nationalcenter.org). They issued the following statement:
Currently, the CBC has an entirely Democrat membership. Two black Republicans were elected to the House of Representatives in this year's mid-term elections. West told WOR radio: "I plan on joining [the CBC, and] I'm not gonna ask for permission or whatever. I'm gonna find out when they meet and I will be a member... I think I meet all the criteria, and it's so important that we break down this 'monolithic voice' that continues to talk about victimization and dependency in the black community." Congressman-elect Tim Scott (R-SC), the other new black Republican, has not yet said if he plans to try to join the CBC.
While the CBC reportedly has not yet offered congratulations to Congressman-elect West, The Hill newspaper now says that the CBC sent an unattributed e-mail to its current membership saying that the newly elected black Republicans will be "welcomed."
During the campaign, veteran CBC member John Lewis (D-GA) actually campaigned against West. Previously, the CBC had one Republican member -- Gary Franks (R-CT), who served 1991-1997 -- but the rest of the membership at the time voted to exclude Franks from participating in Caucus policy-making. A delegate, Melvin
Evans of the U.S. Virgin Islands, was a member while he served from 1979 through 1981. Another black Republican -- J.C. Watts (D-OK), who served from 1995-2003) -- chose not to join the CBC.
Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli warned against a similar shunning of Congressmen-elect West and Scott. Borelli said: "Tragically, abandoning black conservatives is nothing new for black progressive front groups. Black conservatives like myself have thus far encountered a deafening silence when we try to address our concerns to groups such as the CBC and the NAACP. As more black conservatives become vocal about their principles and values these groups ignore people like me and Congressman-elect West at their peril."
"Like so many of black America's self-professed leaders, the CBC must evolve in its thinking to properly serve our community and the nation. Congressman-elect West will help put an end to the monolithic thinking so prevalent among the current Congressional Black Caucus membership on the key issues such as school choice, government regulation and health care reform," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "As a veteran U.S. Army officer, West will also bring to the Caucus a much-needed injection of the proper ethical standards which the CBC, in its current form, sorely needs. Too many CBC members now unfortunately face ethics trials or are being dogged by ethics questions."
True opportunity and freedom. That's a good thing.