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“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 Council’s corporate 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.

Click 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 Dean’s Democracy 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 Caucus.

With a few exceptions, the Democratic Leadership Council/Blue Dog faction of the Congressional Black Caucus are elected by 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 political process? 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.


December 2 2004
Issue 116

is published every Thursday.

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