“The early concession
betrayed the trust of the voters,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.,
whose Rainbow PUSH Coalition has joined the Green and Libertarian
parties and others demanding a vote recount in Ohio. “We have
a moral obligation and a legal obligation to see that every vote
counts and whether Kerry gets the most votes or not, we must
break a precedent of fraudulent elections.”
What must be broken is the Democratic Leadership
grip on the party. Two presidential elections in succession, DLC-led
tickets have acquiesced to Republican criminality, leaving Black
voting rights strewn in the gutter like plastic baubles the morning
after a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. Kerry’s near-instantaneous
concession was designed to pre-empt and silence the cries of the
wounded so that the DLC might make amends with the Bush Pirates
and rejoin the permanent government as a compliant, junior partner.
However, history may record that Kerry’s cavalier dismissal of
the Democratic base’s deep pain and righteous outrage was the fatal
insult. Contempt is no basis for cohabitation. If the DLC’s dead
hand cannot be pried from the controls, the national Democratic
Party is finished. The troops will disappear, and no amount of
527-type money will buy them back.
Rev. Jackson has good ears, and hears
the historical flipping of the script. In the 1980s he wrote key
parts of that script in two presidential bids that so alarmed
white southern and corporate Democrats they formed the DLC to
keep Blacks, labor and other core constituencies in check. A
late addition as a senior consultant to Kerry, Jackson’s presence
could not alter the essential anti-constituent nature of the
campaign. Now the strange bed-fellowship of Greens and Libertarians – “Glibs” – holding
high the banner of voting rights has illuminated the wreckage
the DLC has purposely made of the Democratic Party coalition.
It’s too late for…somebody, but that somebody ain’t Black folks,
who must struggle on, as always. “This campaign in Ohio is not
so much about Kerry as it is about Fannie Lou Hamer,” said Jackson,
on Pacifica’s Democracy
Now! “It’s about Medgar Evers. It’s about Schwerner, Goodman,
and Chaney. It’s about the people's will to democracy. If people
can fight for democracy in the Ukraine, we can do that here.”
Asked what John Kerry is “doing with
his $51 million” in unspent campaign funds while the “Glibs” wage
a costly battle for democracy, Jackson replied: “I do not know.”
The Race for 477 Votes
The DLC specializes in
dollar-democracy, the kind that trumps mass constituencies every
time in the United
States. The real field of battle for Kerry – who appears to have
the rich man’s effrontery to consider running for president again
in 2008 – and for Hillary and Bill Clinton and the institutional
DLC, is for continued control of the Democratic National Committee
(DNC). With the breathtakingly corrupt Terry McAuliffe on his
way out, the Democrats must choose a new chairman by March 1
to run the party bureaucracy. So entrenched has the DLC
become in the DNC, that its factions are fielding
two of the major candidates for chairman. Former White House
operative Harold Ickes represents the interests of DLC co-founder
Bill Clinton and Senator-wife Hillary, while Simon B.
Rosenberg is founder of the DLC-spawned New Democrats Network.
If the 477 committeepersons want a straight-up corporate guy
without the rhetorical b.s., telecom executive Leo J. Hindery
Jr. is available to bring the party even closer in line with
the views of his peers.
for larger image of cartoon
Black former mayors Wellington E. Webb and
Ron Kirk, of Denver and Dallas, respectively, may fit the bill “if Dems want to emphasize
minority candidates who won big in ‘red’ states,” according to
the current issue of Business
Week. Given that the Democratic National Committee has become
corporate turf, and therefore requires business journalists to
navigate its corridors, we at trust
that Business Week can speak authoritatively on these matters.
Then there’s Howard Dean. Whether it was his original intention
or not, Dean’s presidential campaign ultimately became the primary
vehicle for the “real” Democrats’ crusade to take the party back
from the DLC, a mission shared by “bottom-tier” candidates Al Sharpton,
Carol Mosley-Braun and Dennis Kucinich, but scuttled by the massed
corporate media in favor of John Kerry. Dean also proved that tens
of millions of dollars can be raised in small contributions via
the Internet, a Democratic alternative to corporate peonage. "He is the only candidate who
emerged out of the 2004 campaign to build a serious organization," said Congressman Jesse
Jackson Jr., touting Dean for the DNC chairmanship. With Rep.
Jackson on point, Dean has sought the support of
numerous members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Whether Dean’s bid to free the Democratic National Committee from
the corporate claws of the DLC is successful or not, it is in progressive
Black Democrats’ interest to forge a strategic relationship with
for America PAC and its affiliated organizations. They know
how to raise money – something Black progressive politicians
have not been able to do for a host of reasons – and are committed
to expanding the party’s progressive base, a project that is anathema
to the DLC.
But don’t expect the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to move
as a body in the right direction. To paraphrase Pogo, the old cartoon
strip: “We have seen the enemy – and some of them are us.” One-fifth
of the CBC are members of
the DLC. These include Harold Ford, Jr. (TN), who votes against
his Black Memphis constituents’ interests to better position himself
for a U.S. Senate race, while hobnobbing with the good ol’ boys
of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition; Artur Davis (AL), beneficiary
of the 2002 corporate cash offensive that also ousted Cynthia McKinney
in neighboring Georgia; David Scott (GA), possibly the most conservative-voting
member of the CBC, also a 2002 Black “New Democrat”; Gregory Meeks
(NY), Juanita Millender-McDonald (CA) and James E. Clyburn (SC),
an otherwise decent man who nevertheless finds it useful to co-chair
his state’s DLC; and Albert R. Wynn (MD),who is proud to have “represented
the Congressional Black Caucus on the [House Democratic] Caucus
Democratic Leadership Council.”
Wynn and Harold Ford are among the four CBC members that voted
to give George Bush the War Powers he used to invade Iraq, as is
Sanford Bishop (D-GA) who, although not a DLC member, shares Blue
Dog Coalition membership with Harold Ford.
The ninth Black DLCer and/or Blue Dog in the Congressional Black
Caucus will be leaving, shortly. Denise Majette this year begged
off a rematch with Cynthia McKinney to run a doomed Senate campaign
with no prospect of effective support from a state Democratic Party
in complete disarray due to white defections to the GOP. McKinney
won back her seat handily, in 2004.
Newly elected CBC members Gwendolynne Moore (WI), Al Green (TX)
and Emanuel Cleaver (MO) are not affiliated with the DLC. Eighteen
stellar Black U.S. Representatives belong to the 54-member Congressional Progressive
With a few exceptions, the Democratic Leadership
Council/Blue Dog faction of the Congressional Black Caucus are
overwhelming majorities of Black voters who are totally unaware
of the DLC’s racist, corporate origins – or even that their
representatives are members of the DLC. A Black progressive
grassroots political education project of huge dimensions is
clearly in order.
The Disturbing Reflection
We never stop hearing that Blacks need to seek
alternatives to “the
Democrats” because “the Party” ignores Black aspirations and “takes
Black voters for granted.” All true; that’s the DLC’s modus operandi.
But these corporate-wedded Democrats also comprise one-fifth of
the Congressional Black Caucus, and include the mayors of Atlanta
(Shirley Franklin), Detroit (Kwame Kilpatrick) and the disastrous,
voucher-sucking, always gentrifying and constantly lying Anthony
Williams, of Washington, DC.
Will Black anger at “the Democrats” lead to a deep
malaise and wholesale withdrawal of African Americans from the
Yes, a great disengagement is likely in the absence of a practical,
credible and inspirational path to African American empowerment.
Is a Black political party such an alternative? “Blacks support
the formation of an independent black political party in greater
numbers than anytime since the Reagan years,” according to Harvard
political scientists Michael Dawson and Lawrence Bobo. (See , November
18, 2004.) “In general blacks are showing strong support for
an independent political agenda, based on control of black communities,
which includes strong support for reparations.” But that does not
necessarily translate to a practical, doable project. What is one
to do with the more than 10,000 Black elected officials, nearly
all of them Democrats elected by Black majorities in their localities?
The truth is, African Americans are “the Party” in the
places where most of us live. In fact, African American Democrats
are majorities of the Democratic Party in Louisiana, South Carolina,
Georgia and Mississippi, yet allow (mostly DLC) whites to run the
party machinery. In many cases, Black Democratic leaders join the
DLC, themselves, with full knowledge that the faction was created
to prolong the illusion that whites remain the dominant presence
in “the Party.” In much of big-city America, the Black vote is the
electoral party, for Democrats.
If we look around, we’ll find plenty of “Black Party” chapters
already in existence. The problem is, they don’t act Black.
The wrong people are in charge, including the wrong Blacks. In
such cases, the formation of a new, “Black” party amounts to running
away from the problem.
It’s time to look in the mirror, and clean up our own house. It’s
the one that’s crumbling.