During last week’s confirmation hearing for Senator Jeff Sessions, three members of the Congressional Black Caucus staged a tawdry, theatrical performance more befitting of the Three Stooges than politicians entrusted with the important task of improving the lives of their constituents.
Senator Cory Booker, grandstanding in a supposedly “historic” attempt to become the Democratic Party’s next-Barack Obama, testified that Sessions could not be counted on to uphold civil rights as Attorney General. Before his political ambitions got the best of him, however, Booker not only knew that he could count on the Republican he testified against, but he gushed that he was “blessed & honored to have partnered w/ Senator Sessions” to award the Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights veterans who fought for voting rights for African Americans in 1965.
Congressman John Lewis also testified, but the career politician failed to provide any facts supporting his vicious attack on Sessions’s character. Instead, Rep. Lewis spent most of his time describing the challenges African Americans faced a half-century ago during Jim Crow, ironically proving that “the forces that want to take us back to another place” are people like him in the racial grievance industry, who constantly conjure up the ghosts of the past because they think the best way for black people to get ahead is to play the victim card.
Perhaps the lowest moment of this spectacle came when Cedric Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, accused the Senate Judiciary Committee of putting him and other black lawmakers “at the back of the bus” by scheduling them to testify towards the end of the hearing. Richmond neglected to mention that the Democrats did not request to testify against Sessions until after the hearing agenda had already been set, and that it would have been disrespectful to make other witnesses who were already slated to testify wait just so that the congressmen could cut in line.
The Congressional Black Caucus chair’s outrageous remarks comparing the hurt feelings of privileged black congressmen—who hold a level of power, influence, and wealth that most Americans would die to have—to the dire situation of African Americans who risked being beaten or arrested simply for sitting in the white section of a bus shows just how far the now-rotten apple of civil rights activism has fallen from the tree. The self-pity he displayed confirms why many today believe that the civil rights agenda no longer consists of the noble goal of securing equal rights for minorities, but instead amounts to a naked power grab by whiny, pampered blacks seeking special treatment or affirmative action that puts them ahead of the line at the expense of others.
More importantly, however, last week’s farcical performance served as yet another reminder of how incompetent, ineffective, and irrelevant the Congressional Black Caucus is. Instead of drafting and passing legislation to improve the lives of the people who elect them into office, the black caucus specializes in race-baiting and playing the race card against Republicans. Refusing to act like grown-ups, they put up offensive paintings depicting police officers as pigs on federal property, hold ineffective sit-ins like jobless, college activists, and wear hoodies to protest “injustice.” None of these empty, symbolic gestures of protest actually benefit the lives of the constituents they are supposed to represent.
The failures of the Congressional Black Caucus are both tragic and longstanding. Rep. Lewis, for example, lives off his accomplishments from 50 years ago, but the district he represents encompasses Atlanta, Georgia, which has historically been one of “the most dangerous U.S. cities,” plagued by high rates of violent crime and homicides. This district, which the “civil rights legend” has represented in Congress for three decades, teems with “chronically failing” public schools and high levels of black poverty, with eighty percent of Atlanta’s African American children residing in communities with high concentrations of poverty.
So here’s a modest proposal for the Congressional Black Caucus. Instead of constantly serving as the loyal attack dogs of the Democratic Party, ineffectively barking like Chihuahuas at the heels of President-Elect Donald Trump and his nominees, why not try to work across party lines to pass legislation that benefits the lives of your beleaguered constituents?
Trump has promised to rebuild America’s inner-cities and to empower our poorest youth with greater school choice. If the Congressional Black Caucus had its constituents’ best efforts at heart, its members would offer to partner with the new administration to accomplish these noble goals.
If the Congressional Black Caucus continues to fail its core supporters who face disproportionately high levels of crime and poverty, come 2018 black voters should reject these failed politicians and replace them with a new generation of leaders who will do more than just play the race card as stooges for the Democratic Party.
Nick James is the nom de plume of a trial attorney in the D.C. area who formerly worked for the United States Department of Justice as an award-winning federal prosecutor.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.